I remember the moment I came home to the newly renovated house done by Vinny Muldoon and his crew. I was not thrilled that I was the reason the house had to be changed. I was not happy I needed constant help. I did not want my accident to be the center of all conversations. There was a lot of “I don’t want this” going on, and as time went on I realized how much of a positive impact I was having on people and people having on me. My home is beautiful, and the amount of work put in to it is incredible. People are constantly showing my family and I so much support by sending letters or stopping by to hang out. I have learned what it means to be generous and compassionate. Donating your time to be with someone is the biggest deal to me. People I have made relationships with while working at Cherry Valley CC have made a profound impact on me. I can truly say I have become a better person because of this accident, and I am glad I have found that out earlier on in my life. That being said, I’d like to be back to the way I was, physically.
So begins Kevin McDermott’s chronicling of his life after a tragic accident left him paralyzed from the neck down. A 12-season track & field and cross-country star at Duke University, Kevin broke his C5 diving into a pool near his home in Hempstead, NY. He was an outstanding scholar-athlete at Chaminade High School on Long Island, the same high-school where my roommate and close friend Liam Morton went to school. It’s a school with an outstanding athletic reputation, and Kevin won the Jack Lenz Semper Fidelis award as the outstanding scholar-athlete his senior year. That’s an impressive feat at a school with as BAMF an athletic program as Chaminade. Which makes his story all the more difficult to hear and all the more inspiring at the same time when you read about the progress he has made.
Kevin’s story came to me from another BAMF – John Carson – who met Kevin at a function for victims of spinal cord accidents. So many thanks to John for passing along yet another BAMF. I’m privileged to trade emails with John, and it’s telling how often he wants to tell me about other people.
Kevin’s story is, of course, incredibly heartbreaking. He admits that he struggles with the way things are, but, like a true BAMF, he also speaks of his determination to overcome it. I can’t think of a more powerful story than Kevin’s telling of how he has taken – with the help of only a support railing – steps on his own.
For more on this BAMF, check out his website at KevinMcDermott.org. Be prepared to cry. It’s powerful stuff.