Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Report from the Road

While we did not attend it - being otherwise engaged as we were rooting for Frank in the District 12 finals at South Plainfield - on Saturday evening the community of Rutgers University did something extraordinary for one of its own. And making a good event even better was the fact that at the tip of the spear leading the effort was another member of the Rutgers family.

Eric LeGrand suffered a significant spinal cord injury while playing football for RU on October 16th against Army. The injury to his spinal cord is one that a lot of folks flying the flag of conventional wisdom suggest will prevent him from ever walking again. If you have seen or read anything about this young man and the equally extraordinary mother who birthed him and raised him, you know that they give not a rat's ass about conventional wisdom. In slightly more than four months, he has made what seems to be extraordinary progress.

It is a road on which progress is measured in baby steps. Yet, while slow and steady may indeed be the recipe for winning this particular race, there is nothing at all wrong with stopping from time to time and celebrating the distance covered. On Saturday night, the RAC served as a stage upon which the 3,000 or so people in attendance watched a night of comedy and laughter that Rutgers alumni Bill Bellamy organized and headlined. The night was a fundraiser for Eric LeGrand's family. Those in attendance might have been forgiven if they expected that they were the ones doing the giving.

Saturday night Eric LeGrand made his first public appearance since his injury. The photographs that accompanied the article in the Courier-News are worth gazing at for a while. He is a young man bound to a wheelchair for perhaps the rest of his life. Yet his eyes are full of hope and joy and his smile stretches from one side of his face to the other. Scroll through them and see if the smile on his face does not put a smile on yours.

I know not how much money was raised for Eric LeGrand and his family on Saturday night. Every little bit certainly helps. I did see that plans have already been announced for a 5K walk at Rutgers Stadium on June 4th. That event is entitled, "A Walk to Believe". Presuming that I live to see a sunrise after May 1st that is something I could easily see myself taking part in. While it is true that I usually run in 5K events rather than walk in them, it is also true that given the rather methodical pace at which I run it is a thin line being walking and running. To the untrained eye I might very well appear to be doing the former already.

The road is long. The journey is not easy. But when you see the look on his face and on his mother's face and realize that neither of them is programmed to fail, you cannot help but feel compelled to do something, anything to help them in their effort to realize their goal. Kudos to all who continue to do whatever they can to help Eric LeGrand make it a bit further on up that road. And kudos to him and to his mom, two human beings long on heart and hope and courage and all of those things that a lot of us (me at least) wish we had more of ourselves.

Keep choppin' 52. Keep choppin'.


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