ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - This week marks one year since University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair suffered heat stroke that ultimately led to his death. Now, his parents are turning the loss of their child into a mission to save others.
To call Marty McNair and Tonya Wilson brave would be an understatement.
Last May, their son Jordan suffered heat stroke during a practice and wasn’t properly treated. He died two weeks later. Since that very moment, Tonya says she can’t remember the last time she had a good day.
“I can’t remember. I can’t remember. I try to smile, but missing Jordan, I can’t remember,” said Wilson.
It’s been an agonizing year for Tonya Wilson and Marty McNair, coping with the loss of their 19-year-old son Jordan whose tragic death gripped the nation and learning of other parents whose children suffered the same fate.
“Jordan, Braydon Bradsworth, Marquis Meadow from Morgan State, the young man, all these guys were somebody’s sons, nephews, grandsons, brothers and teammates,” said McNair.
In response to his death and allegations of a toxic culture at UMD, the university launched two investigations, fired their head coach along with athletic trainers, and made significant changes to their sports medicine model.
Tonya and Marty are taking those efforts further by launching a foundation in Jordan's honor to promote awareness, education and prevention of heat-related injuries in sports.
“I think we were chosen to be a voice for all these people who didn’t have voices that lost their sons due to this tragic illness or this tragic injury that’s 100 percent preventable,” said McNair.
On Friday, Wilson and McNair hosted their first fundraiser Friday — a soldout charity golf tournament at Turf Valley in Ellicott City.
Tonya says after about 365 bad days, this has been a good day.
“The sun is shining, that’s Jordan’s smile. That’s Jordan smiling all over us today,” said Wilson.
“I talk to Jordan every morning. I read every article to him, every plan that we have. His spirit is strong still, so I know that he’d be cheering us on. Quietly, how bout that, huh. Yeah, he'd be cheering us on, saying good job mom and dad, save some people,” said McNair.
Jordan’s parents told FOX 5 that raising awareness is as important as money because heat-related illnesses are preventable if you know what to look for. They’re encouraging student-athletes to learn the symptoms and to speak up if they’re not feeling right.
FOX 5’s Anne Cutler had the opportunity to speak with UMD’s new football coach Mike Locksley who took part in Friday’s tournament about the changes the school has made.