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Faith Rouses LeGrand's Spirit to Make an Impact on Others' Lives
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Eric LeGrand and Sandra

Register online for "Eric LeGrand's New Team," which will take place in Walsh Gym at 6 p.m. on Monday, September 16, as part of the School of Health and Medical Sciences' (SHMS) new Interprofessional Perspectives Speaker Series. SHMS alumna and physical therapist Buffy Wojciehowski as well as occupational therapist Gabriella Stiefbold, both from the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, will join LeGrand for the presentation.

From heartache to triumph, it is clear that Eric LeGrand does not let obstacles derail him. The former Rutgers University football player has been in the national spotlight since October 2010, his junior year, when he suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury during a game. Since that day nearly three years ago, LeGrand has remained paralyzed below his shoulders.

His determined approach to his rehabilitation — and insistence that he will walk again — is inspiring. His "bELieve" motto is the rally cry of his supporters nationwide, and during a phone interview with the Associated Press he once said: "How can I get down when I am motivating all these people in the world."   

A recent magazine feature about LeGrand attributes his resolve to walk again to his belief in God. "He describes his injury as divinely inspired, saying he believes God chose him to carry such a burden because He knew he could," wrote Rutgers Magazine reporter Christopher Hann. "'Just think: two years ago I was running down the field making the tackle, and now I'm here,' he says, gesturing toward the wheelchair. 'But what I've done in these past two years for myself and for so many other people has been truly a blessing. I know that God has a plan for everything, and that I'm not just going through this just to go through it. I'm really affecting a lot of people's lives through this, and I'm waiting for that day when I can show that miracles do happen.'"   

LeGrand's connection to Seton Hall University is compelling. His primary physical therapist is School of Health and Medical Sciences alumna Sandra "Buffy" Wojciehowski, PT, DPT '07, a graduate of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program and a Physical Therapy Clinical Specialist at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, NJ. Joining Wojciehowski and LeGrand at the September 16 event on campus is Gabriella Stiefbold, OT, ATP, an Occupational Therapy Clinical Specialist at the Kessler Institute, one of SHMS' premier clinical partner organizations. In fact, several SHMS students also have worked with LeGrand during their clinical rotations there.   

"We look forward to showcasing how an interprofessional team of healthcare providers – including Buffy, one of our School's most successful graduates – can work together to provide the best in patient-centered care," says Brian B. Shulman, PhD, Dean of SHMS. "Interprofessional education is an integral part of our School's mission, and this inaugural event for our Interprofessional Perspectives Speaker Series will further demonstrate our commitment to preparing students to make a difference in the world."   

Positively affecting others' lives is of paramount importance to LeGrand and his family. He recently founded Team LeGrand in collaboration with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to help individuals living with spinal cord injury and their families by supporting quality of life initiatives and emerging therapies.   

"We are thrilled to welcome Eric, Buffy and Gabriella to Seton Hall for this special event," says Genevieve Pinto-Zipp, PT, EdD, chair of the SHMS Interprofessional Education Task Force, a committee of volunteer SHMS faculty members who are exploring and creating sustainable experiential learning opportunities related to the School's IPE mission and vision. "Eric's motivation to walk again is so inspiring, and we are sure our entire community will feel empowered and uplifted upon hearing his story of courage and faith."

For more information please contact:
Lori Riley
(973) 313-6077


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