Bartlesville Wrestler Paralyzed In 2000 Reunites With The Opponent Who Injured Him
SAPULPA, Oklahoma - Two young wrestlers met on the mat nearly 20 years ago and due to a freak accident, only one of them walked out of the gym. The other was paralyzed and would remain that way for the rest of his life.
Kris Cordero's journey to recover and to find his place in the world has taken many twists and turns, but he knew it would not be complete until he was face to face with that opponent once again.
Cordero and Robert Daniels were high school heavyweights wrestling in Sapulpa on January 15, 2000. At that time Cordero was a sophomore from Bartlesville and he was matched up with Daniels who was a senior from Lawton.
Something during that match resulted in something going terribly wrong.
"I heard it. I felt it. From my neck down, my body was on fire," Cordero said.
After he was injured, Cordero was told he'd never walk again. For years he struggled to find his way.
"I need to do something with my life. I can't bank on a cure and stop living in the meantime," Cordero said.
He did move on, however, he still wished to meet with Daniels.
They met in person for the first time since then to talk about what had happened.
"In the video, it doesn't look like much, but inside it was bad."
Cordero had much resentment towards Daniels after the injury.
"It weighed on my mind a lot," Daniels said.
Cordero went through tough times, but when he was asked to speak to other spinal cord injury patients, it changed his life.
"I get to wake up every day. I don't have anxiety, I don't have depression. I'm at peace. I get to go to a job I absolutely love," Cordero said.
Because he sees so many people whose lives are stuck because they can't find a way to forgive, Cordero wanted to make sure Daniels knew he forgave him and did not hold a grudge. He searched for Daniels on Facebook.
"I was shocked but when he started talking, he's an amazing guy," Daniels said. "It makes a big difference that he doesn't hold any animosity, I'm just at peace now."
"He knows I forgive him and don't hold it again him, accidents happen and that's what it is," Cordero said.
These two wrestlers hope their story inspires others to overcome whatever life throws at them.
If somebody bad happens, there's light somewhere. You just have to find it," Daniels said.
"Not forgiving is such a burden to people. For me, that's what it's all about," Cordero said.
These two now appreciate the sport that taught them the art of the hold, but now taught them how to let go.