Cory Holm was a 3 sport 1st team all conference athlete in Emmett, Idaho. He was a 3 year starter in football, basketball, and baseball. He excelled at everything he did, though his passion was baseball. He had a special gift, a knowledge of the game and instincts that set him apart from other great baseball players, along with speed that seemed to be endless. His heart was as big as that smile we came to love. His infectious laugh made you laugh with him. He fought for the underdog and the less fortunate. He was a sensitive and caring young man with his whole life in front of him and no limits to what he could accomplish.
The events that changed our lives. (written by Kari Dietz, Cory’s mom)
Cory Holm was an outstanding baseball player attending Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario. He had received NWAAC awards as a freshman, and was returning for his sophomore year. During a baseball game on October 24, 2012, Cory was seriously injured in a tragic and very unfortunate accident. It was the bottom of the 9th inning during an inter-squad game in the tournament known as the “Chukar World Series”. With his team far in the lead and with 2 outs, Cory could have cruised in the outfield and let that line drive drop. It didn’t matter to the outcome of the game, so it was a base hit, no big deal. If Cory thought he had even the slightest chance of catching that ball, it was going to happen. He was going to rob the guy of the hit and end the game. Cory dove for the ball and his momentum carried his dive into the center field wall, driving the top of his head into a post. Cory would later tell his coach while lying in ICU paralyzed from the chest down, “I caught the ball right? I’m pretty sure I had it.”
Cory was in ICU for 4 days trying to stay tough and optimistic, the realization of paralysis to a such a gifted athlete just seemed impossible. He had broken and displaced his C6 and C7 vertebrae. He still had normal function in his upper body, arms, and hands. In private conversations, Cory expressed his feelings of disappointment for letting down his family and team. He figured he would have to miss the pre-season, but hoped to be back for the conference match ups. None of us knew how not to hope with him. He seemed to really believe it. There were the quiet times when he would talk about what was he was supposed to do, he knew nothing other than being a great athlete. The possibility of not recovering weighed so heavily on him, though he didn’t want to let anyone know it. On the 4th day after the accident, Cory was taken from his room to have some scans done. I remember the last words I said to him while we were watching the World Series and eating milkshakes. “I’ll be waiting here for you to get back.” “O.K. I’ll hurry” he said. He coded somewhere between his room and the procedure. He never spoke again.
The Dr.’s told us Cory was going to die. They were not sure what happened to him. All they knew for sure was that his body had suffered a very serious spinal cord injury in the accident, and that sometimes the body goes into shock when the central nervous system is critically injured. That’s it? He’s gone? What just happened? How can you not know? These were our thoughts. So with Cory on total life support we waited. Those who could said their goodbyes. I’m not proud to say that I wasn’t one of them, I just couldn’t. We waited in a room filled with the heaviness of death for the news that Cory was gone. We watched as his oxygen levels hovered around 60%, his blood pressure as low as 30, his body filled with so much fluid to put pressure on his circulatory system to help blood move through his body that he was unrecognizable. He was on a ventilator, basically not doing any major functions on his own except beating his own heart. That is the last organ to go the Dr.’s told us. His heart was strong and it may take a little while for it to give out, but it will. Everything else had quit. Waiting minutes turned into hours. We kept receiving updates from Dr.s, not any good news about progress, just news about waiting for his heart to stop, that athlete’s heart to give up. Well for some reason, it did not. 6 hours later Cory began to stabilize. We were thrilled, it’s a miracle we thought! We had no idea what was to unfold, as over the course of the next few months the new definition of our lives began to take shape.
Cory spent 5 weeks in the ICU, 5 weeks at a long term acute care hospital, and 3 months at a spinal cord and brain injury rehab hospital in Denver, Colorado. Then in April of 2013, he came home. Those 6 hours he spent fighting for his life left him with a long list of deficits. He suffered an anoxic brain injury. He had a permanent tracheostomy tube, feeding tube, he could not verbalize, and could move only his head. He suffered from chronic bouts of pneumonia since he was not able to cough well enough to clear his airways. Cory required 24 hours a day care. We added on to his bedroom for his new needs and ramps to the front and back doors of our home. We bought a Transit Van, the rolling toaster we like to call it. We have spent a lot of time walking, attending baseball games, and just hanging out with Cory over the last 5.5 years. We vacationed as a family, went bike riding (Cory had a special wheelchair bike), and anything else we did, Cory was always right there. We could get him to crack smiles when we would talk about stupid things he had done in his life. We knew he was listening intently when we were talking, just taking it all in. You could see it in his eyes. We are so, so blessed to have been given this extra time with him, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything, except maybe getting my son back. That dream was long gone. There was a reason for the accident, a reason for the complication, and a reason that he lived through it. I can’t even begin to imagine what it might be. I definitely do not understand it, but I trust it. Maybe we couldn’t accept losing him after the accident, we needed more time. Maybe we had to learn something about ourselves and what we were willing to sacrifice for a loved one. Maybe it was our chance to show Cory how much we loved him and that we would do anything for him, including giving up our own lives. Maybe we had to learn what it meant to truly love someone unconditionally, could we do it. I hope Cory knew how much we loved him. We tried to show him every day. Cory was not suffering, he seemed very content. He left us peacefully on April 1, 2018, but our hearts will ache every day we are not with him.
Thank you for sharing in this memorial for him. Let’s let him know that we will never forget him.