Through 20 years in this business, I’ve gone some amazing places and met some special people.
One of those is my radio sideline assistant for Virginia Tech football: Cornell Cranham.
There’s no one else like Cornell.
Cornell was born in 1992 3½ months premature, weighing only 1 pound, 9 ounces. He was left behind by his birth mother, ventilator dependent in a hospital incubator with severe health conditions that made the outlook for his survival grave.
Yet in 1994, after 15 months at Children’s Hospital of The Kings Daughters in Norfolk, Kim Cranham, an occupational therapist, saw something that few, if any, did: hope. Kim convinced her husband that Cornell deserved a chance at life, despite the doctor’s warning that even if he beat the less than 50% chance of survival, he would never be able to talk, walk or show emotion.
Twenty-seven years later, Cornell is more than just surviving. He’s talking, and for seven Saturdays this fall, he’s been walking up and down with me on the sidelines for home games at Lane Stadium.
My first introduction to this amazing person came from my dear friend and broadcast colleague, Virginia Tech play-by-play man Jon Laaser, who randomly texted me one day last March: “I’ve hired you a sideline assistant. Read this.” It was followed by an online link to “The Cornell Effect,” a book released in January written by Dr. John Cranham, a dentist and Kim’s husband, about their journey raising Cornell in a biracial family along with their daughters Kaitlyn and Kristen.