Written By: Nate Loomis
On August 24th, 2008 Graeme, a 2002 UNH grad and newly wed in the beginnings of a new career, was involved in a car accident that left him a C-7 quadriplegic. Graeme was shortly thereafter admitted to Shepherd Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta to complete the rehab process and to learn how to live with a spinal cord injury. In addition to learning how to adapt to life using a wheelchair for mobility, the Shepherd Center introduced Graeme to adaptive sports through their Therapeutic Recreation Department.
Graeme, being a native of Scotland, had been a life-long soccer player (or footballer as his countrymen would say) and a passionate fan of just about every professional sport, so naturally the world of adaptive sports caught his attention.
Upon returning home to Barrington, NH, Graeme was connected with Northeast Passage through his support network of family and friends. In February of 2009 he attended his first Quad Rugby practice with the NEP Quad Rugby team.
“Playing quad rugby gave me a reason to get out of the house. I am a very competitive person so being involved made me want to work harder to become the best player possible. Through this process I have strengthened my upper body and it has made everyday life much easier, and led me to a level of independence I was not sure was possible.”
Five years later, Graeme is both a prominent player on the court and a team leader on the bench. He has traveled with the team to tournaments from Florida to Canada and his family and friends have become actively involved with fundraising and helping with tournaments. Despite his dedication to the NEP Wildcats and the sport of quad rugby, Graeme’s personal and professional accomplishments bring him the most pride.
“My biggest accomplishment was becoming fully independent. This milestone allowed me to change my career. I am now a math teacher at Laconia High School. In addition, my wife and I had our first child, Allyson, in May.”
As if Graeme wasn’t busy enough as a dad, teacher and rugby player, he recently earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Plymouth State University, moved into a new house in Epsom, NH and has added waterskiing and alpine skiing to his list of hobbies.
Graeme’s relentless drive and positive outlook serve as an infectious motivator to all walks of life, but when he encounters others with disabilities he is quick to mention Northeast Passage and the positive impact his experience with adaptive sports has had on his life.
“[NEP] is an organization that offers one the freedom to partake in many activities newly injured people may not think are possible. I always stress the camaraderie built by meeting and being around people who understand what you are going through and can offer support and advice. It is a difficult transition and those involved in NEP make it easier to deal with.”
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