Sept. 18, 2013
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – On October 16, 2010, Rutgers defensive lineman Eric LeGrand tore through an assortment of would-be blockers to make a tackle on a kickoff against the Army Black Knights in a game at MetLife Stadium.
During the collision, LeGrand suffered a severe spinal cord injury that ultimately left him paralyzed from the neck down. No stranger to making impact plays between the lines, the imprint created by his relentless approach to the on-going recovery process has extended far beyond the gridiron. By applying the same tenacity that made him a standout on the field – all while maintaining an infectious smile – he has risen to the level of a cultural icon; inspiring many around the world.
In the midst of his rehabilitation, LeGrand has taken his message on the road, relaying firsthand the motivating factors that drive his determination while imparting the role that faith has played in his desire to share his story with others.
On Monday, September 16, he visited Seton Hall as part of his “Eric LeGrand’s New Team” initiative. The event kicked-off the inaugural School of Health and Medical Sciences' Interprofessional Perspectives Speaker Series, and LeGrand was greeted by a packed Walsh Gymnasium crowd that included an abundance of current SHU student-athletes.
The appearance was coordinated in part by former SHU women’s soccer goalkeeper Sandra “Buffy” Wojciehowski who has worked closely with LeGrand throughout his recovery. An alumna of the School of Medical Health and Sciences who earned both her B.S. and D.P.T. at Seton Hall, Wojciehowski is a Physical Therapy Clinical Specialist at the prestigious Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. She has dedicated her professional life to assisting those who have suffered spinal cord injuries and as an integral figure within the outpatient care program at Kessler she has presented at two national conferences.
LeGrand’s speech came just days after a ceremony in which he became the first player in the 144-year history of Rutgers football to have his number retired and his message left a lasting impression on the student-athletes in attendance.
“It was really motivating to see how positive Eric LeGrand has been throughout his rehabilitation,” said men’s golf freshman Kevin O’Brien. “His goal of making a difference in the lives of others while maintaining an unwavering commitment to achieving his goal of walking again is something we all can learn from.”
“His story is extremely inspirational,” added Tabatha Richardson-Smith, a sophomore on the women’s basketball team. “It was very humbling to hear him tell his story and know that it could have happened to any of us; it really puts things into perspective. His positivity throughout was eye-opening and something we can work to incorporate into our own lives as well.”