Spirit of Colorado Sports — Part 3

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A vow. It’s a solemn promise – to do something specific. And for Ollice Burke, that something is to get off the sidelines.

“It is.  That`s the hardest part.  I hate watching,” Ollice said.

When the Colorado Raptors minor league football team started this season, his number four helmet wasn’t supposed to just be sitting in the grass

Ollice had planned to be out there at quarterback.

“It’s pointless to sit here and watch them play.  It`s like, it sucks to watch everybody else play and me not play,” Burke said.

But flat-lining on a hospital bed, and 13 days in a coma, forced a change in plans.

Ollice’s fight began back in February, when he started feeling sick, and collapsed on a Colorado Springs basketball court.  Then he stopped breathing.  And he didn’t wake up for six days.  When he finally did, he couldn’t move.  Ollice had had a stroke – at 26 years old.  Everything in his life stopped.  Football.  His job.  His plans to finally marry his highschool sweetheart.

“You just don’t think about that, you live life day to day, you don’t think anything like that will ever happen,” fiance Latrica Perryman said.

For an all-American athlete… Imagine hearing from doctors that you’ll likely never walk or talk again.

“I still remember when people had to hold me up just to walk.  Everybody was holding me up.  I had three people holding me up just to walk,” Burke said.

But for the last eight months, that vow has driven Ollice.  That solemn promise to do something specific.

“When he first came in, he couldn’t even throw the ball from here to there,” friend Keith Hinton said.

That’s meant, working out every day, pushing himself… to get back to where he’s always been.

“To see where he was, and where he’s at now, flat-out miracle,” Hinton added.

With his young daughter at his side, he has attacked his physical therapy.   Surmounting obstacles doctors thought impossible.

Re-learning the child-like skills he lost when his brain was so severely damaged.

What often takes years to re-learn, he’s mastered in just months.

“We just keep setting the bar higher, and he just keeps reaching it,” his physical therapist said.

Therapists say it’s because he’s so athletic, and has worked so hard, that he’s bounced back so fast.

In fact, Ollice is progressing so quickly – no one has any doubt – he will, within be able to get back out there and compete – soon.

But before he fulfills that solemn promise, there’s one more vow to make.

For 10 years, Latrica Perryman has been by Ollice’s side.

They’d been planning this day for years.  And she worried, they’d have to delay it.  But Ollice’s rehab progressed so quickly, they were able to share their vows on schedule.

They’ve already been together in sickness, now, they hope for health.

So Ollice can carry out that other vow, he’s been so focused on, for so long.

“This year alone has been horrible… the worst year ever. It’s good now,” Burke said.

View Part 4 of the special here.

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