ENOLA -- The level of competition doesn't matter. Football is a contact sport.
Sometimes, though, a simple touch is all that it takes to make an impact.
Rob Marrero used to play with and against members of the Harrisburg Sharks and Panther Valley Breaker Boys of the Great Eastern Football Association (GEFA) -- a regional league of teams playing eight-man football, not your normal eleven-on-eleven.
Only eight players a side? There is strength in those small numbers, however.
The Sharks and Breaker Boys, based in Tamaqua, held a benefit game Saturday at East Pennsboro High School for Marrero, 31, who is now paralyzed after being injured during a game last May. "Seeing him smile, just warms your heart," said Craig Harter, the owner of the Sharks.
Marrero was injured after leaping and catching a touchdown pass for the Mountain Top Reapers, another squad in the GEFA. He was hit in mid-air and fell on top of his head, crushing his neck. He is paralyzed from the neck down -- an injury he will never fully recover from.
Marrero is still not breathing on his own yet. He underwent a surgery in March and received a diaphragmatic pacer which will hopefully allow him to breathe on his own in the future, according to his wife, Carrie Marrero.
"It's slow, but there is progress that most people can't see," said Carrie, the mother of two children. "There's a lot of things that are significant to us....and him."
Being at Saturday's game is one of those things.
It's the first time Rob Marrero, of Lansford, Carbon County, has attended a football game since the injury.
"We just feel that's way bigger than a football game," added Harter, who plans on holding an annual benefit for the Marrero family. "Its about compassion; sharing and giving and trying to help somebody else."
The game raised $1200. The Marrero family needs a specially-equipped van to transport Rob to his many doctor appointments.
"I'm glad he could see the outpouring of support," said Carrie. "He has a lot of support; more than he ever thought he did, I think."