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Cornell Cranham’s spirit shining on Virginia Tech sideline

“The Cornell Effect” details his story through his father’s eyes

One man has overcome tough odds to be on the sidelines of Lane Stadium.
One man has overcome tough odds to be on the sidelines of Lane Stadium.

Hokie fans may have noticed a new face on the sidelines this season. Cornell Cranham has teamed up with Voice of the Hokies, Jon Laaser, to assist with the radio broadcast. And he’s quickly become a part of the team.

“It’s always good to go over and see him smiling, always getting my spirit good,” linebacker Dax Hollifield said. “Now if it’s a bad play, come off the field, he’s back there, I know I can count on him to cheer me up.”

That spirit tested from birth, he’s been facing some of the longest odds the game of life has to offer.

“Cornell was a baby born premature at a children’s hospital, just a little over a pound, a crack baby,” Cornell’s father John said. “He was left there, parents couldn’t take care of him, and we ended up bringing him home, my wife was his occupational therapist.”

At birth, the doctors believed there was a change Cornell wouldn’t live. Then when the Cranham’s brought him home, they were told he likely would never speak or even walk.

But then he did.

“It’s just been this unbelievable story of persistence and just incredible attitude,” John said. “In the process of trying to help this little boy, he sort of transformed all our lives.”

A story of a miracle so pure that John decided to write about it, and published a book called “The Cornell Effect” in January of this year. Months later, Laaser got his hands on it.

“I was so captivated by Cornell’s story,” he said. “In the beginning, it seems hopeless. You know that it’s not going to be because of course there’s a book written about it and I knew a few of the minor details of his life, but at the end it’s such a joyous thing.”

Laaser was so inspired by his story, he decided to bring Cornell onto their broadcast team. And as a lifetime Hokie fan, it’s a job he doesn’t take lightly.

“What I’ve been doing is, I’ve been writing stuff down for Wes Mcelroy, and listening to Justin Hamilton, and then I Report back to Wes and Wes reports back to Laze,” Cornell said.

But his work doesn’t stop there, he’s also touching players hearts.

“He cheered me up, he cheers everyone else up, he’s a big part of our team when it comes to that,” Hollifield finished.

John Cranham donated dozens of copies of his book for a signing on Saturday from 3-5 in front of Cassell Coliseum. All proceeds will be donated to Mental Health America.