Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier has launched a nonprofit organization to help people affected by spinal-cord injuries.
The Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation aims to provide those with spinal-cord injuries, and their caregivers, “the support, resources and funding they need to live independent and meaningful lives,” according to the organization’s website.
It was spinal-cord injury that led to Shazier’s premature retirement from the NFL.
“I’m truly excited to announce the Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation,” Shazier wrote on Twitter. “My team and I have been working behind the scenes to find ways to continue to push forward progress for the spinal cord community. One step at a time we will change how people view spinal injuries.”
Shazier was 25 with a Pro Bowl season behind him on Dec. 4, 2017, when he attempted to make a play against the Cincinnati Bengals and ran headfirst into another player. He collapsed to the ground and was unable to move his legs.
After spinal stabilization surgery and rehab, Shazier regained movement in his legs in February 2018.
While he had hoped to play again, he announced his retirement on Sept. 9 at age 28. The Steelers selected Shazier, an Ohio State product, in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
He had 299 tackles in 46 games (41 starts) to go with seven sacks, seven interceptions and seven forced fumbles.
Members of the organization’s board of directors include Steelers owner Art Rooney II.
“I want to be there for people who are going through similar struggles,” Shazier said. “No matter who you are or what you’re going through, we’re all in life together. We need to take care of each other.”