As a lifelong WWE fan, Eric LeGrand was able to live his own WWE dreams this weekend as he was honored with the WWE Warrior Award. According to the WWE, the Warrior Award is presented to individuals with unwavering strength and perseverance. An inspiration to us all, LeGrand is in good company, as the award has also been presented to breast cancer survivor and former Good Morning America host, Joan Lunden and Conor Michalek, a WWE fan whose battle with pediatric cancer inspired the WWE to launch its Conor’s Cure charity.
Eric LeGrand’s life changed that fateful October day in 2010 when a headfirst tackle during a game against Army at MetLife Stadium left him paralyzed. While a lesser man may have given up, or let his situation turn him bitter, LeGrand has become a spokesperson for the disabled, using his platform to raise money and further research for spinal cord injuries. It has always been a sign of loyalty and integrity that Rutgers has stood behind LeGrand throughout this journey, and a reason that I have always been proud to be a Rutgers alum.
In a moving acceptance speech on Friday, met by several rounds of applause, LeGrand spoke not only of his own dreams of walking again, but his desire to continue the legacy of Christopher Reeve, whose own battle with spinal cord related illness ended in 2004. Reeve dreamed of a “world with empty wheelchairs,” in hopes that the medical community will find a cure for spinal cord injuries, and no person would ever again need to use a wheelchair. LeGrand imagines a day when a spinal cord injury will be no worse than torn ACL, “you go in and get the surgery done, and you’re going to walk again.”
Not just satisfied to persevere towards his own goal of walking again, or even as spokesperson for spinal cord injuries, LeGrand also founded his own group within the Christopher Reeve Foundation. Team LeGrand is a support group for others with spinal cord injuries who may feel isolated, depressed, and without a voice, to know that they are not alone and “will walk again,” according to LeGrand.
In a situation where many would have been discouraged or given up, Eric LeGrand is a true hero and has used this situation to give a voice to those who may have otherwise not had the opportunity. As the granddaughter and niece to two amazing people who lost terrible, lifelong battles with Multiple Sclerosis, I am personally thankful to Eric LeGrand for giving a little more hope to those living their lives in a wheelchair. Receiving this award has provided LeGrand’s foundation wider awareness, and allowed the WWE community to see LeGrand as the warrior we Rutgers fans have always known him. Congratulations, Eric LeGrand, on this well-deserved honor.
For those of you who missed the original ceremony and would like to see highlights, they will be aired tonight, April 3rd, on the USA Network at 11:05 PM EST.
Ric Flair got emotional while talking to Eric LeGrand, who was a big WWE growing up. pic.twitter.com/e2hP2inqAj— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 1, 2017