Cory Joseph Wilson’s life was cut short too soon, but he has left a lasting impression on the College of Business Administration at Georgia Southern University.
On Tuesday morning, his family members, friends, Georgia Southern faculty and officials from Cardiac Science gathered inside the college. Wilson’s parents, Kenny and Lisa Wilson, donated an automated external defibrillator to be placed in that building.
Once Cory Wilson, 21, collapsed in the classroom on Jan. 17, he never regained consciousness. The junior management major from Savannah was pronounced dead on arrival at East Georgia Regional Medical Center.
Dr. Bill Wells, the dean of the college, said all attending the AED donation ceremony Tuesday were there to “look forward instead of looking backwards.”
“What Eagle Nation really means is that this university is a family,” University President Dr. Brooks Keel said during the ceremony. “When tragedy strikes a family, the family comes together. It comes together in many ways. It comes together to support each other. It comes together to raise awareness about important issues that affect that family.
“We had a tragedy affect this family,” he continued. “And I’m so pleased that we’re able to come together in this way, in this very positive way as we move forward as we try to make sure that this never happens again.”
Kenny and Lisa Wilson, along with Cory’s sister Morgan, were part of the ceremony. Lisa Wilson thanked many people, including officials from Cardiac Science, a global medical device company headquartered in Waukesha, Wis., that manufactures AEDs, along with university faculty, staff and students for their support of the family and Olivia Nelson, whom Lisa Wilson said is “Cory’s longtime love.”
“I can’t explain to you the importance and the need for awareness to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation and how to use an automatic external defibrillator,” Lisa Wilson said. “It is our hope that this defibrillator, placed here in Cory’s memory, will serve as a lifesaver for another student, parent or staff member on some day, at some other time, perhaps when we’re not even here.”
Mike Castleman and Rob Williams, of Cardiac Science, also attended. Both expressed hope that the AED will help safe a life should someone face sudden cardiac arrest. Williams, who graduated from the College of Business Administration in 1996, choked up as he spoke.
“I never thought that the next time I’d be back in this building would be because of this,” Williams said. “I was trying to figure out what in the world (the professor) was talking about in corporate finance II and where the next keg party was going to be. But now I’m here, and although I wish it would certainly be in some other light, things happen for a reason and I’m glad that we’re at least able to provide a small token of support with that defibrillator.
“We hope it never happens again, but at least this building is protected,” he continued. “And statistically speaking should it happen again in this building, that victim would have a 70 percent chance of survival. So it’s not a cure, but it’s a whole lot better than a 5-7 percent chance of survival.”
Williams added that an AED is like a fire extinguisher — easy to use and requires no training. If someone hooks up an AED to a person who appears to be suffering cardiac arrest, the machine reads the patient’s vital signs and determines whether to administer a shock.
“It has to detect a lethal arrhythmia in order for it to deliver a shock, so you cannot misuse it,” he said.
Kenny Wilson, Cory’s father, presented a plaque to Keel. It reads: “In Memory of Cory Joseph Wilson, 1991-2013. Lived with vigor. Laughed with vibrance. Loved with vengeance. ‘It’ll be ah-right.’ ”
“One of his sayings was that everything would always be ‘ah-right,’ ” Kenny said.
Lisa Wilson closed her remarks by summing up her son’s life.
“He lived, he laughed and he loved, and he was a proud member of Georgia Southern’s family,” she said. “And we are also proud to be that as well.”
Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.