Cory Wilson's love for life was equal to his love for baseball. And when he died unexpectedly in January 2012 of a fatal cardiac arrhythmia in a classroom at Georgia Southern University, his family was paralyzed with grief.
Despite the shock and pain of losing their only son, Wilson's parents, Kenny and Lisa Wilson, stepped up to the plate and established a scholarship in memory of Cory. Then, a few months later, they saw to it that an automated external defibrillator (AED) was dedicated in Cory's memory and placed outside the classroom where he collapsed.
On Aug. 2 and 3, Kenny and Lisa Wilson and their daughter, Morgan, will be sitting in the stands cheering on participants in the Cory Joseph Wilson Fireball 40 Memorial Baseball Tournament - yet another way their son and brother's legacy will continue. College, high school and 14 and under players will run the bases at Scott Stell Park, while 12 and under and 10 and under teams compete at Bazemore Park in Garden City. Entry fees are $30 per player for college and high school students, and $350 per team for younger players.
The first share of the proceeds from the tournament will go toward the purchase of an AED for Chatham County for use with county baseball facilities. The remaining proceeds will be split between the effort to purchase additional AEDs for Chatham County facilities and the Cory Joseph Wilson Scholarship through the Savannah Community Foundation (scholarship recipients are Kappa Alpha fraternity members at GSU.)
Already, rental of the fields and at least one AED have been donated.
Lisa Wilson said the idea for the tournament came about when friends approached her family about hosting the event in Cory's memory.
"It seemed appropriate that a tournament would honor Cory with the game he loved," she said. "Competitive to a point, he never put his desire to win before his efforts to support his teammates. He was fun to watch on the field, and we had the pleasure of watching him from the time he was 4 until he was in college."
During his years in baseball, his mother worried about him becoming overheated or getting hurt.
"I worried when he broke his hip that he would ever play again," she said. "I worried when he got hit in the eye that he would lose his sight and I worried if he didn't get to play in a whole game."
But, she added, she never thought he would die in a college classroom.
On that January day, there was no AED near the classroom where Cory collapsed.
A classmate attempted CPR, but Cory couldn't be revived.
For the Wilson family, the tournament in Cory's memory is a gift, his mother said.
"It offers us a chance to honor Cory's memory while raising money for a cause that could save a life," Lisa Wilson said. "This tournament will offer us a chance to reconnect with many of Cory's friends and their families. It will also allow us to introduce Cory, if only in memory, to younger players who may have never known him. Somehow I hope through this tournament, Cory will speak to all of us and maybe there will be a small - albeit tiny - amount of healing for each heart that walks on one of those fields."
IF YOU GO
What: Cory Joseph Wilson Fireball 40 Memorial Baseball Tournament
When: Aug. 2-3
Where: College, high school and 14U teams: Scott Stell Park, Savannah; 12U and 10U teams: Bazemore Park Baseball Complex, Garden City
Info: 912-657-0946 or email firstname.lastname@example.org