Rutgers community to paralyzed player: "Believe"

January 7, 2011 3:14:22 PM PST
Students at Rutgers University in New Brunswick have had one word on their mind a lot these days - "Believe."

They are all believing that Eric LeGrand, a football player paralyzed during a game, will recover.

On Friday, LeGrand gave his teammates, classmates, and supporters even more reason to trust that he will walk again someday.

"I believe that I'll walk one day. God has a plan for me and I know it's not for me to be sitting here all the time," LeGrand said.

It was October 16th as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights took on Army. That's when the 6'2," 275 pound junior fractured his C3 and C4 vertebrae. LeGrand vividly remembers lying on the field unable to move and afraid he'd die.

"Fear of death was my biggest fear. I could have because I couldn't breathe, I couldn't move," said LeGrand.

After surgery, coming off a respirator and months of grueling rehabilitation, LeGrand has regained movement in his shoulders and sensation in the rest of his body.

"I was like wow, big shock. It's coming back," he said.

The Rutgers community has rallied around LeGrand, adopting the mantra "believe". They believe in his courage and his recovery.

"Believing in him, believing in his life and that he's gonna be okay," said Samantha Simon.

At a store near campus called "Scarlet Fever" they've sold thousands of T-shirts emblazoned with LeGrand's number 52 and the words "I Believe". The proceeds go to help LeGrand and his family.

"We're just very happy for him and hoping the progress continues and we're praying and believing that he will walk again," said track and field coach James Robinson.

"It's going to be slow and it's going to be step by step, but he's got such a positive attitude and positive outlook," said Rutgers Sr. Vice President Jonathan Alger.

LeGrand says he tears up sometimes because he misses his friends, but that positive attitude is what keeps him going as he continues his rehabilitation - believing that someday, somehow he'll get up out of his wheelchair and walk again.