May 11 (UPI) -- Robert Paylor was paralyzed below his chest after a spinal injury Saturday in the college rugby national championship game. In three days, donors have pledged $350,000 toward his recovery.
The injury happened in the opening minutes of the Bears' 43-13 win against Arkansas State at Santa Clara University. The 20-year-old was carried off the field after hurting his spine. It is currently unknown what the exact cause of the injury was. He was transported to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
"The Paylor family would like to extend our sincere gratitude and thanks to the Cal Rugby family, friends and community for all your prayers and support," Paylor's family said in a statement. "We can't find the words that express what that has meant to all of us in this very sad time in our lives. Robert is currently working on stabilizing his condition so he can start rehabilitation.
"The injury paralyzed his lower body with limited motion in his arms. This will be a long and difficult journey for Robert and his outcome is uncertain. But we know his faith and determination will get him as far as he can go in regaining mobility. We are overwhelmed with the love and support we've received from people all over the country and ask that you continue to keep Robert in your prayers."
Paylor's friends and family set up a GoFundMe account on May 8. As of Thursday afternoon, the account had 2,168 donations for $350,991.
"He had surgery that evening [Saturday] for his best chance of regaining movement of his arms and hands," the GoFundMe account description says. "Robert is a strong young man with incredible faith, a wonderful family and friends to help him recover."
"According to the Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation, the average expense for the first year with high tetraplegia can be about 1 million dollars and with low tetraplegia, about $769,000. This was stated in 2016, and we know how much medical expenses went up last year."
"So many of you have reached out asking how you can help this wonderful young man, outside of your prayers."
"Robert's road ahead is long, and very expensive. Supporting Robert with whatever you can give and help relieve the financial burden would be greatly appreciated. With financial assistance, Robert and his family can focus on his rehab and getting healthy and strong."
In the first two days, the GoFundMe account raised $242,806. His post has been shared more than 9,400 times.
Paylor sat upright for the first time in a chair on Wednesday. His family said he is reading all of the messages from the GoFundMe account. The Cal sophomore is currently in ICU.
"Our team is devastated by Rob's injury," Cal coach Jack Clark said in a statement. "There aren't words to adequately explain our sorrow for what he and his family are going through. Rob is an extraordinary teammate, friend and student-athlete."
"As a university-recognized scholar athlete, he represents everything that is right and true about collegiate athletics. His challenges will be severe, long in duration and difficult beyond measure. Our team intends to be there with him every bit of the way."
Paylor is listed as 6 feet 5 inches tall and 233 pounds. The Bears' lock is a graduate of Jesuit High School in Carmichael, Calif.
A prayer service for Paylor is planned for Thursday night.