UNT Dallas 2020 Grad Corey Borner “Finds a Way” to Walk Again at Commencement Event

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Corey Borner walks for diploma

After a debilitating football injury that left him paralyzed, UNT Dallas 2020 graduate Corey Borner found his way to way to walk again at the university’s 2020 Walk the Stage event on August 14, 2021.

The Walk the Stage event was held to honor graduates from UNT Dallas who were not able to participate in 2020 graduation festivities due to COVID-19.  The 2020 graduates were given the opportunity to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas and have their pictures taken. Thanks to the assistance of a specialized robotic suit called an Eksoskeleton, Corey was able to participate with his classmates.

Corey’s family and friends waited patiently for his turn -- last in a line of 200+ graduates -- and erupted in cheers and applause as he walked out to accept his diploma, leaving his wheelchair behind if only for the moment.

In 2009, Corey, a DeSoto High School sophomore football player was stepping into a bright future as a cornerback.  That future would take an unexpected turn during spring football practice. After making a routine tackle, Corey didn’t get up.  He had suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury at the C-5 and C-6 level and was paralyzed from the neck down, changing his life forever at the age of 16.

 Corey was rushed to a local trauma center and underwent a 9-hour emergency surgery. He spent 11 days in intensive care and continued his recovery at Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas vowing “I’ll walk again.” After surgery, Deon Sanders, Terrell Owens, now Texas Governor Greg Abbott, former University of Texas football coach Mack Brown, and other professional athletes visited him for motivation and encouragement to persevere.     

 Corey struggled with his new reality but turned that struggle into motivation and continued to “Find A Way” to walk again someday.  Corey graduated from DeSoto High School in 2011 and the school retired his football jersey (#24).  He went on to graduate from UNT Dallas and became a motivational speaker. Since his life-changing injury, he has documented his journey on social media focusing on his unwavering belief in himself and extreme positivity.

 Now in 2021, twelve years after his injury on the football field, Corey’s journey of finding a way to walk again has come to fruition, marking a milestone in his recovery and life.