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michael89156

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: May 20, 2013, 12:00:13 AM



Eric LeGrand finds freedom as he finally returns to his Avenel home

 

 By Steve Politi      Star-Ledger

 May 18, 2013 at 11:31 AM









No one knew where Eric LeGrand had gone. And that, in itself, was a moment to celebrate.

His mother thought he was on the second floor of their new home in Avenel. A friend thought he had come back downstairs to the kitchen. Was he out on the deck? On the balcony outside his room?

He turned up a minute later, parked in his wheelchair in the driveway, eating a plate of baked ziti with an old friend. That he had gotten there on his own, without needing help from anyone, is what made this such an important day for the former Rutgers football player.

LeGrand finally went home Friday, 944 days after he was paralyzed from the shoulders down making a tackle. He opened the backdoor on his own. He called for the elevator inside on his own. He motored out onto the second floor my loft, he called it and moved around easily in a three-room suite that will improve his life in so many ways.

I can leave without telling my mom now, LeGrand said. Shes going to be chasing me down Avenel Street!

The technology that makes this possible is astounding. LeGrand uses his tongue to select the door he wants to open from a list on his wheelchair computer, and when he makes his choice, the chair works like a big remote control. It sends an infrared beam to a sensor on the door, which activates the automatic opener.

His three-room suite on the second floor is also equipped with aluminum tracks that will allow his mother, Karen, or an assistant to lift LeGrand from his bed and move him to the shower, or from his TV area to a therapy area.

Karen LeGrand used to do much of that on her own, and it had taken its toll on her back. She needed this house, too, after nearly two years in a two-bedroom apartment in Woodbridge, sleeping on a futon bed because her room was too small to accommodate the real thing.

For all that time, she had to do it all for her son. Turn every knob. Open every door. Some of the demands wont change, but finally, hell be able to do so much more on his own.

Eric is going to be more independent. And Im going to be able to relax a lot more. -- Karen LeGrand

Eric is going to be more independent, Karen LeGrand said. And Im going to be able to relax a lot more.

She deserves that. Her son deserves that. He used a phrase yesterday that he has used probably a thousand times since his injury, that you have to appreciate everything you have, and not focus on what you dont have.

But for all LeGrand has done for others, all the people he has inspired with his attitude and all the places hes gone to tell his story, you want him to have something like this. A place of his own.
 
So as he gave a small group a tour, he bragged about the 90-inch movie screen he was having installed in a couple weeks and pointed to a spot on the wall where his Tampa Bay Buccaneers locker would eventually go.

This is his home, and he wanted it in his old neighborhood. The developers who made this project possible tried to show LeGrand and his mom bigger lots in nicer neighborhoods around Colonia and Woodbridge, but each time, LeGrand said he belonged on his old block on Homestead Ave.

He said, I grew up in Avenel. I want to be where my friends are, said Randy Csik, the president of the Iselin-based American Properties.

So last fall, Randy and his brother John, the project manager, tore down the 900-square foot ranch house where LeGrand grew up. In December, they finished the foundation for a house three times that size. The house cost close to $400,000, with the generosity of the contractors and donations to his Believe Foundation paying the bill.

Finally, the movers started to carry in their stuff Friday. LeGrand has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated since the injury. He has been honored at the ESPY awards show and met some of the biggest names in entertainment and sports. He has become an inspirational speaker who travels the country for his job and a football analyst on TV radio.

He hadnt been home until Friday. This was a door opening into a better life for someone who deserves it. And, best of all, he opened that door on his own.

































The Anti-Java

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#1 : May 20, 2013, 01:48:34 AM

Good for him.  He looks happy.


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#2 : May 20, 2013, 02:17:05 AM

What a great read.

Check out www.reverbnation.com/nickfreddy and follow me on twitter @nick_freddy

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#3 : May 20, 2013, 06:42:29 AM

Amazing human being, inspirational to all who have daily challenges.

                \'Every day above ground is a good day\'

tripblood

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#4 : May 20, 2013, 09:06:58 AM

Beast. What this dude has gone through an the positive attitude he puts out is unbelievable. Makes me feel like an ungrateful assh0le.


This guy...

Ladyfan

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#5 : May 20, 2013, 09:42:34 AM

I know what you mean.  I feel like a jerk too in comparison...god bless him and can't wait to see him again in Tampa.


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#6 : May 20, 2013, 09:50:25 AM

He's an amazing guy. I'm honored that he's a Buc.


GMACsBlankey

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#7 : May 20, 2013, 12:05:55 PM

Probably not a player we've ever had on our roster I've been prouder of. His attitude, his charity work, his message are all unbelievably inspiring. He really is a special person. Great read!

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#8 : May 20, 2013, 01:17:11 PM

Good for him.  He looks happy.

Hope he can stay happy - when all the attention goes away and he's left with just himself and his mom.

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#9 : May 20, 2013, 01:45:32 PM

Great story-- one of my all-time favorite Bucs!

#Ring-of-Honor


The Anti-Java

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#10 : May 20, 2013, 10:20:48 PM

Good for him.  He looks happy.

Hope he can stay happy - when all the attention goes away and he's left with just himself and his mom.



He doesn't have to worry about anything really.  He has that "Believe" foundation. He does public speaking all over the country.   I don't know his fee for that, but I know Tebow gets 6 figures for each speaking engagement. 


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#11 : May 20, 2013, 10:54:02 PM

Awesome story. He seems like a good kid, too.

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#12 : May 21, 2013, 02:09:12 PM

Hits next to home, Iselin is my hometown. I am hoping the Bucs bring him down for a preseason talk.
This would make a great story even better.
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