A group of local advocates asked Northwest Suburban High School District 214 to consider a paid insurance policy that would cover student athletes in the case of catastrophic accidents at the board's meeting on Thursday.
The request comes 13 years after Rolling Meadows High School football player Rob Komosa was severely injured during a practice and left paralyzed from the neck down.
In the wake of Komosa's 1999 accident, the community rallied around his family, raising tens of thousands of dollars to help them move to a handicapped-accessible home. In 2005 Komosa was awarded a $12.5 million settlement as a result of his lawsuit against the district, which owned the field where the injury occurred.
Catholic Deacon Don Grossnickle has been a friend and advocate for the family since Komosa's injury and has pushed for The Gridiron Alliance, a charity helping other injured athletes, to make a difference in the community.
"The lack of insurance aid to help Rob and his family was devastating," Grossnickle told the board on Thursday. "I'm here asking District 214 to arrange a comprehensive safety net for our students."
District 214 does offer optional student accident insurance with options for coverage during school time and out of school hours, as well as a special policy for football players with premiums ranging from $30 to $400 for the year.
Grossnickle said he is also trying to get the Illinois High School Association to provide full coverage throughout the athletic season, rather than just during state-championship play.
Steve Herbst of Arlington Heights, who is also with the Gridiron Alliance, said the group's plan to have the money for the policy draw from gate receipts and concessions at sporting events would have a minimal impact on the district budget.
"We parents confidently put our trust in you," he said. "I think we can do better, in fact I know we can do better."
Rich Rodriguez, an insurance agent from Arlington Heights, said he did some research on behalf of the Gridiron Alliance and found that the insurance would be feasible for District 214.
"It would be an overall cost savings for the district if you put this in place because your other insurance premiums go down since you aren't exposed to as much risk," Rodriguez said. "This is doable, this is feasible."
Superintendent Dave Schuler said he would be open to doing research on the topic but would want to see how the new Affordable Care Act might affect the issue before moving forward.