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Eric LeGrand inspires WMS

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Eric LeGrand speaking to eighth graders about his life story

Eric LeGrand speaking to eighth graders about his life story

Mr. Malmstrom

Mr. Malmstrom

Eric LeGrand speaking to eighth graders about his life story

Miloni Choksi, Spring Editor

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The local legend, Eric LeGrand, shared his inspiring story in order to motivate the youth of WMS to believe.

Eric LeGrand grew up in Avenel. His love for football started when he was in elementary school and he would play, ¨kill the man with the ball¨ with the neighborhood kids. He later attended Colonia High School where he played for their team. His coach was none other than WMS’ very own, Mr.Cianfano. He describes LeGrand as, “a very nice and humble kid. He always looks at the brighter side of things.” After graduating high school LeGrand went to Rutgers University, playing for their football team as well. He was #52. In all his years playing football his positions were  running back, linebacker, and defensive tackle.

Mr.Cianfano
Mr. Cianfano with Eric LeGrand

In 2010 LeGrand suffered a spinal cord injury during a game against East Rutherford’s team, Army. He collided with another player and lay on the ground for several terrifying minutes before being carted off. He remembers that he “couldn’t breathe”.  He wanted to put a thumbs up to the crowd to show that he was okay but he said, ¨It felt like there were a thousand bricks on my hand.¨ After going to the hospital the doctors concluded that he was now paralyzed from the neck down. He was given a device to help him breathe, but later that year during Thanksgiving he was able to breathe on his own. He said, “it’s not even whether you keep breathing, it’s whether you keep breathing how you want to breathe.” On January 6th 2011, Rutgers announced that he regained movement in his shoulders.

Karen LeGrand, Eric’s mother, said the one thing that makes her proud of her son is that he’s never giving up and he’s inspiring many kids all over the nation. Mrs.Legrand went on to explain that she, “couldn’t be more proud of him.”  To see her son go through hardships was heartbreaking, she also commented, but went on to explain that she is most proud of him for continuing his education.

LeGrand has many recognitions and awards such as, the Unsung Hero Award by the New Jersey Hall of Fame,  the Jimmy V. Award for Perseverance at the 20th annual ESPYs , and LeGrand was named the most influential person in New Jersey sports by the Star Ledger. These are just some of the many prestigious awards he has been honored with.

His story inspired many at WMS. Here’s what eighth grade students had to say:

“LeGrand truly opened up my eyes and showed me to believe in myself and all I have to do is put my mind to it and work hard to achieve what I desire. “ – Dylan Christine

“No matter how bad things are, someone always has it worse than you and you should always appreciate the small things in life because they can be taken away from you.” – Jaydin Rose

“I learned that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, meaning no matter how bad something is, as long as you believe it will get better.” – Genesis Henriquez

“ I learned that If life closes a door there’s always a window for you to get out of and escape.” – Diego Rolon

“ I learned that I should keep trying to follow my dreams and I should never give up no matter what the circumstance is.”- Sayuri Hadge

“ The one thing I took away was to never let anything hold me back.”- Tashi Jefferson

“ I felt inspired and he made me believe that I could accomplish my goals.”- Noah Monsanto

“ I learned that I should never take anything for granted.” – Daniel Kauzya 

LeGrand truly inspired young minds and showed them to believe.

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Eric LeGrand inspires WMS