If you’ve attended any Lee County High School football game over the last few years, chances are you’ve seen a young man located near the west end of the stadium, seated in a wheelchair up close to the fence, watching his Trojans football team intently from his perch. That’s Trip Block, considered by many to be Lee County’s No. 1 sports fan.
His love for his beloved Trojans is obvious to anyone that meets Block. If you encounter him at any Lee County sporting event, you’ll see him wearing Trojans gear, from pullovers to his trusty Trojans baseball cap.
But Block’s most treasured piece of Lee County gear isn’t an article of clothing. It’s the huge state championship ring from the 2018 state title that normally goes to the players, coaches, and those that are part of the Lee County football program. Block is as much a part of the Lee County program as anyone, so his parents made sure that he would receive a state championship ring. He often wears it proudly at the football games.
Block is a Lee County native, has lived there his entire live, and still resides there to this day. He was born at Phoebe Putney Hospital in Albany to Chip and Traci Block of Leesburg.
At birth, Trip Block was diagnosed with spina bifida, a condition that causes nerve damage to the spinal cord during the early stages of pregnancy. While his case was considered a milder form of spina bifida, doctors still determined that it was serious enough that Block had to immediately be transferred to Atlanta’s Scottish Rite Hospital, where he underwent surgery at 1 day old.
He would undergo another surgery a few days later and then spend three weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Scottish Rite. When Block was 7 months old, doctors informed his parents that his brain stem was not maturing correctly due to a separate condition known as Arnold-Chiari malformation. That would necessitate yet another surgery.
There were concerns that Block would not be able to get the nutrition that he or any other infant so desperately needs in the early stages of life. That would bring about yet another surgery to insert what’s known as a “g-tube,” a device that would allow Block to receive sustainable nutrition. (He still uses the g-tube today to receive proper nutrition).
Even with this, doctors told Block’s family that his life expectancy would likely be around the age of 16 years. But, Block fought, and with a strong support group of family and friends, he defied the odds. He has done pretty much anything that any other child would do growing up. He was able to play little league baseball at the age of 7 with help from his parents and rec league coaches Alan Moree and Earl Walker.
“I am forever grateful to those men for giving me that opportunity,” said Block. “They would go on to help me stay involved with sports all the way through my high school years.”
That included time spent as part of the Lee County High School track team.
At the beginning of his senior season of high school, Block would once again have to battle the odds when he became very sick and had to undergo lung surgery. A problem with his esophagus forced doctors to insert a trachea tube, which kept Block in the hospital for much of the summer leading up to his senior year of high school.
Block reflected on his faith in God for helping him to recover, as well as inspiration from his late grandfather (“Papa,” as Block calls him).
“We became very close, me and Papa,” said Block. “He told me that I was his inspiration and his hero and to never give up.”
With his faith and words of inspiration from his late grandfather, Block got better and was able to leave the hospital just in time to begin his senior year of high school.
Following his graduation from Lee County High School in 2012, Block began working with the Lee County Sheriff’s Department later that same year in a part-time role, and he is still currently employed with the law enforcement department.
Block says people ask him how he is able to go on each day with so many obstacles in his life, but as he reminds those same people, he wasn’t even supposed to be here.
“I wasn’t supposed to make it past 16,” he said, as his doctors had once predicted. “God still has plans for me, and he still desires to use me for his glory and honor.”
Lee County head football coach Dean Fabrizio talked about the inspiration that Block provides for him and his team: “Trip has been a great fan and a big motivator for our team for many years. When our players see Trip and how he always has a positive attitude and outlook on things, it motivates them to work harder.”