Kickin' It For Corey

Vilonia High School EAST Students host fundraising event for the family of VHS Student, Corey Nowlin

April 5, 2020 is a day that forever changed the lives of the Nowlin Family. Corey Nowlin, a sophomore at Vilonia High School was out on his horse for a ride, as he often did, when he had a terrible accident resulting in a Traumatic Brain Injury. Mustard Seed Marketing owner, Emily Kelley, also from the Vilonia community, was in the PICU at Arkansas Children’s Hospital with her 5 week old son when Corey was admitted. “I believe that God writes our story. I know that he placed this family in my direct path so that we would be encouraging to one another during such a time of uncertainty.” The first 72 hours after being admitted would be only the beginning of this journey. Corey remained at Arkansas Children’s Hospital for months after the Kelley’s son went home, but Emily stayed connected to their story. There have been many ups and downs but with every social media post and conversation - the good and the bad - Corey’s mom Cendy, has remained a pillar of strength and encouragement for not only her son Corey, but for the entire community. One thing that cannot be denied, is that Corey Nowlin has the heart of a fighter. Corey has undergone 3 surgeries since his accident. The last being the most terrifying. During a July surgery, the prosthetic that was created for Corey’s skull blocked the oxygen to his brain. The medical team worked fast to open his skull back up to remove it, but the complication left him without oxygen to his brain for 30 minutes! A few short weeks ago, Corey left ACH and headed to Houston where he would begin an intense rehabilitation program.

For the past 5 months, Vilonia High School EAST students have stood on the sidelines watching Corey fight for his life. They longed to be able to do something for this family that would bring hope and ultimately relieve some of the financial burden. They decided it was time for their student body and faculty to act and get in the game. Six unified students - Elise Gasaway, Farrah Hopkins, Jordan Jefferson, Jacob Lane, Tyler Heslep, and Megan Morse - and their EAST facilitator, Erin Rappold, put pen to paper and formulated a plan! When asked why, Elise Gasaway, Senior said “Corey’s case is so major. We wanted to raise awareness and raise funds to help offset the costs.” About her students and community, Rappold says, “I’m so impressed with the hard work the EAST students have accomplished in a short time frame. These kids care so much about their classmate Corey and love the support by our community and businesses. With all the negatives that this year has brought, this is something heartwarming to encourage us all.”

The event was held in Vilonia at the Centennial Bank Field - Phillip D. Weaver Stadium on Friday, October 2, 2020 during the Vilonia football home game. It featured a Silent Auction with over 15 items donated from area businesses. The auction began when the gates opened at 6:00 pm and closed at the end of the Half. In addition to the Auction, attendees of the game were invited to purchase raffle tickets for their chance at $500 in a Field Goal Challenge.

The energy at the game this past Friday night was contagious. The game was a sell out and members of the community flocked to the Auction table to bid on items and purchase a raffle ticket for thier chance to kick a field goal.At the end of the half, Noah Newman had the lucky ticket drawn to take the field for his chance at $500. Unfortunately, the kick fell short, but Noah still received a gift certificate from Pizza Pro owner, Matthew Bradford. The $500 was then added to the fundraising total.

To say the event was a success would be an understatement. Nearly $6,000 was raised in a span of just two hours. Corey’s dad, Chris Nowlin and Corey’s little brother, Caleb were in attendance at the game and were presented the gift at the conclusion of Halftime.

The VHS EAST students would like to thank members of the Vilonia Business Community for their support — especially Pizza Pro of Vilonia, Mustard Seed Marketing, Red Hanger Boutique and Lawrence Family Hardware who donated prizes and the cash prize for the Field Goal Challenge.

If you would like to know more about how you can show your support for the Nowlin family, contact Erin Rappold,

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