The Nebraska Greats Foundation which serves former letter winners from Nebraska’s 4-year colleges and universities who face medical and financial challenges, has issued its first grant to a victim of COVID-19.
Former UNL Football standout Keven Lightner, an All Big 8 performer in 1987 was struck with the Corona Virus while visiting Nebraska in the summer of 2020. He is an assistant coach with the Fujitsu Frontiers of Japan’s professional football league. Health authorities are certain he was infected while in Lincoln.
Said Lightner, “I would like to thank the Nebraska Greats Foundation for coming to my family’s aid after my long and difficult battle with COVID-19. The bills piled up quickly and the foundation stepped in and took this financial burden off our shoulders. I will be forever grateful!”
Lightner entered St. Elizabeth Regional Health center on July 28th and spent the next 32 days on full life support, including a 10-day induced COMA. While in treatment, he was on a 24-hour ventilator, suffered a collapsed lung and cardiac arrest. His fever spiked to 104 degrees.
Employer sponsored health insurance benefits only provided for a percentage of the seven-figure cost of his care. He and his family applied for support from the NGF.
“COVID-19 has affected so many Nebraska families. In many cases, like Keven the victim recovered but now must face crippling medical expenses. Hopefully Keven’s story will shed light on the increasingly unreachable cost of health care. On behalf of our donors and corporate partners, we are pleased to be able to assist Keven and his family at this time and hope we can do more if needed.” Says Jim Rose, Executive Director of the NGF.
A Nebraska native, Lightner starred at Adams Central HS near Hastings. After his playing days, he served as an assistant coach at Ohio University and Vanderbilt prior to his position in Japan. He became a legend off the field as one of Nebraska Football’s strongest players. He set numerous weightlifting records including a 441-pound bench press and a 756 pound squat.
He has returned to Japan to continue his recovery.