Emporia State student-athlete pays it forward

March 1, 2013

Justin Wilson, second from right, stands with, from left, Ruijie, Yali and Bixiang Huang in Yali’s hospital room at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.


An Emporia State University football player who felt the support of strangers after tragedy struck his family has reached out to a fellow student’s family.

Justin Wilson was preparing to report to his first college football camp in August when his family’s home in Luther, Okla., was destroyed by a wildfire. In fact, Justin and his father, John, had to take shelter from the fire in an 8-feet-deep pond.

In early August, a fund was set up to collect donations for Wilson and his family. Now that the family has recovered from the fire — a new home is nearly complete — it was time to decide what to do with the remaining $1,030 in the account.

On Friday, March 1, Wilson traveled to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita to meet Yali Huang and her family and give them the remaining funds. Huang has been a patient at Wesley since she was struck by a vehicle while crossing a street near campus.

“People helped me when I lost everything, and I want to help you,” Wilson told Bixiang Huang, Yali’s mother.

“We’re both Hornets,” Wilson said of Yali. “We’re connected.”

“I am overwhelmed and speechless,” Yali’s father, Ruijie Huang, said through interpreter Christina Su.

Last month, media in Wichita and around Kansas began publicizing the family’s efforts to find a rehabilitation hospital for Yali’s transfer as well as their need for funds to continue to pay for their daughter’s care. That attention has so far brought in more than $24,000, including nearly $8,300 raised by the ESU Chinese Students and Scholars Association through its spring festival gala.

Yali and her family will return to China this weekend, and she will be admitted to a rehabilitation hospital near her family’s home in Shenzhen in the Guangdong Province. Yali is happy for the move, said her father, who has begun asking her to answer questions with a single blink for yes. Said Ruijie Huang through the translator Su, when Yali was asked whether she wanted to go home, she blinked.

Donations are still being accepted for Yali’s continued care. Checks made payable to Bixiang Huang may be sent to Bank of America, 120 N. Chelmsford Court, Wichita, KS 67230.



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