STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma State University alumnus Denny Kellington is set to return to his alma mater Saturday to speak at OSU’s spring commencement ceremonies inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The Buffalo Bills athletic trainer shared with more than 3,500 graduates how his time at OSU provided him a solid foundation for his career path. Kellington, a native of Midwest City, Oklahoma, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in health and human performance in 2000.
Public speaking is not something Kellington would normally seek out. But on Jan. 2, his career as an athletic trainer changed dramatically. Kellington was part of the athletic training team that saved Damar Hamlin’s life on live television during a Monday Night Football broadcast after the Bills safety suffered a cardiac event on the field.
“The reason anyone knows Denny Kellington is because of one fateful and near-tragic moment on a football field,” Kellington said. “… Our safety Damar Hamlin had a cardiac event that could have ended his life in front of his family, his teammates, his coaches, our athletic training staff and the millions of football fans watching in the stadium, or from the comfort of their living room TVs.”
“… All the attention I’ve received for simply doing my job has been overwhelming. I’ve said repeatedly that I am not a hero, but I will tell you what I was that day, I was ready.”
Kellington turned down many interview requests about that night. However, he said yes to OSU and President Kayse Shrum for a couple of reasons:
“One, I am genuinely grateful, as I’ve already stated, for the role that this university played in my personal path to success,” Kellington said. “But also I’ve realized I’m now the experienced guy in the room, and I take my responsibility to share my knowledge with others seriously, hopefully, like a lot of older people did for me when I was the one sitting where you are.”
Kellington said he hopes each graduate’s future days pass without incident, but they should take comfort in knowing their OSU education has prepared them to face any crisis.
Shrum presided over OSU’s 146th commencement and was joined at the lectern by Kellington; Dr. Ki Cole, OSU faculty chair; Jarold Callahan, OSU A&M Board of Regents chair; and Riley Pritzlaff, Student Government Association president.
“For many of us, our time at OSU represents some of the best times of our lives,” Callahan said. “OSU has played a critical role leading to successful careers and lifelong friendships. On special days, like today, we recognize just how important OSU is to all of us.”
All commencement ceremony videos can be found at insideosu.com.