Tipton athlete Chad Stover still helping people after death

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TIPTON - He never wanted to see his name in headlines, but that's exactly what fate had in store for Tipton's Chad Stover.

On Halloween last year, during a playoff game versus Sacred Heart in Sedalia, Chad Stover made what seemed to be a routine tackle on the runningback. Chad's head hit the thigh of the ball carrier, knocking Chad out. He died in the hospital two weeks later. 

"He was humble beyond words and this [article] certainly would not suit his taste," Amy Stover said of her son, Chad. "Here's this very shy, very quite kiddo, that hated the limelight and didn't want to be in front of people; and ultimately, that was his destiny."

"What he would like about all this, what I think he does like about all of this, is that he's helping people," Chad's father, Ken, added.

368 days have passed since Chad Stover was injured on Jennie Jaynes field in Sedalia. His accident, and death, garnered national media attention from the likes of ESPN, Sports Illustrated and Time Magazine; and added to a long conversation that trickled down from the professional ranks over football safety and the long-term health implications for players.

Before his death, Chad was known as a caring hand, a friend to anyone, always willing to help. 

"He wanted to help, he wanted to make a difference, that was his life goal," Amy said. "That's what he was all about, that was a very fundamental part of our son, it was a very fundamental part of who he was."

Chad's eagerness and willingness to help others, even complete strangers, was evident the night he got his driver's license.

"I was in the kitchen, just cooking dinner," Amy said, tearfully. "He ran in the front door and said 'I got my license!' he was just gleaming over it.  He looked at me and he said, 'Mom, are you an organ donor?' I said, 'Oh, Chad I've never been brave enough to mark that.' Chad said 'I did, why wouldn't you Mom? If you can't use them any more you can help somebody else, why wouldn't you?"

"Point taken. Why wouldn't you?" Amy said.

The Stovers still feel their son's presence, each and every day, and want to use his accident to promote safety across the state. 

"What we would like to see happen, because of what we went through, is we would like there to be medical equipment and someone trained to use it at every football game in the state," Ken said. "We were not afforded that, Chad was not afforded that. We understand maybe an ambulance wouldn't be possible at every high school game. You don't always need an ambulance, but you need equipment and emergency medical personal."

The Missouri State High School Activities Association said not every school can afford all preventative resources, but there should always be a plan for on-field injury response.

"We want to make sure they put emergency action plans in place," Harvey Richards, a MSHSAA executive, said. "We have to make sure they know what's happening if a kid does get hurt or suspected of a head injury they gotta take him out."

Missouri does not require schools to have medical personnel on the sidelines, but the state does mandate all coaches and staff take a concussion signs and symptoms course before the start of every season. MSHSAA requires all athletic staff to take a CPR/defibrillator course.

"Football is a contact sport where injuries happen at almost any game, let's take care of our boys, have those there," Amy Stover said. "It's something that's mandated and commonplace at a college game and an NFL game, let's make it commonplace at every high school game."

Amy said Chad didn't know what his future plans were going to be, exactly. Chad knew he was going to go to college, potentially to play baseball (Chad was a left-handed pitcher with a mean knuckle-curve, according to his dad). He hoped to grow up to be successful, end up living in a small town, and raise a family. The Stovers said they still receive mail from colleges recruiting Chad. 

Chad died on November 14, 2013, two weeks after his injury. He was just 17-years-old.