Former Redskins quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams helped spearhead an effort by the Washington Football Legends to give a gift to Ty Williams, paralyzed playing football for Georgetown last season. (Elise Amendola, Associated Press File)

Ty Williams has made impressive strides since a catastrophic spinal cord injury suffered in Georgetown football’s season-opener last September left the junior linebacker paralyzed.

After nine hours of surgery at UPMC Altoona Hospital and four months of intensive rehabilitation at The Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Williams has regained enough upper-body strength to transition from a motorized wheelchair to a self-propelled one. And in January he returned to the Hilltop for the start of the spring semester, taking two classes while continuing his work in rehab, with a goal of walking again.

On Tuesday, seven months to the day he suffered the spinal injury during a tackle in the first quarter of the Sept. 5 game at Saint Francis in Loretto, Pa., officials of the Washington Football Legends charitable organization announced a gift of $24,000 worth of medical equipment that will enable Williams to continue his rehab at his on-campus apartment.

“It’s gonna help me walk again,” Williams said, speaking to reporters after a ceremony at BMW of Sterling, whose owner, Thomas Moorehead, is co-chair of the Joyce & Thomas Moorehead Foundation, a host of the Washington Football Legends’ annual scholarship gala. Also on hand were Redskins Personnel Executive Doug Williams, Super Bowl XXII MVP (no relation); Ty Williams’ parents; Georgetown football coach Rob Sgarlata and several Hoya teammates.

“I can’t put a price on the support and what this means to me and what it’s going to mean in the future,” Ty Williams said. “I look forward to you seeing me walk sometime in the near future.”
A three-sport letter winner and A-student at Gaithersburg’s Quince Orchard High, Williams now lives in an accessible on-campus apartment and attends three-hour rehab sessions off campus twice a week. The other five days he needs to continue the exercises on his own, but his family struggled to pay for the equipment, which is among several expenses not covered by insurance.

According to Doug Williams, the Washington Football Legends wanted to help as soon as they learned of the injury. The organization, which has awarded more than $200,000 in grants and scholarships to minority students in the Washington area over the last eight years, raised the $24,000 needed for the equipment at its annual scholarship dinner in March, which was attended by 250, including Redskins Coach Jay Gruden, General Manager Scot McCloughan and President Bruce Allen.

“I may be strong, but this is tough,” Ty Williams said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of people in my corner. I’m not meant to stay in this chair.”