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You Gotta Believe

An outpouring of support greets injured football player Eric LeGrand.

Eric LeGrand
Following the news of the injury to Eric LeGrand, one of the first signs of support was the inscription “Believe” on teammates’ helmets.

In the wake of Eric LeGrand’s spinal cord injury, when he was paralyzed while making a tackle covering a kickoff return against Army on October 16, the junior defensive tackle has received an outpouring of encouragement and hope. As the university community reeled from the tragic news, among the first signs of visible support was the inscription “Believe” appearing on his teammates’ helmets and “52,” LeGrand’s jersey number, on the helmets of 11,000 high school football players. Meanwhile, LeGrand received more than 18,000 emails through scarletknights.com. Within a week, Tim Pernetti, the director of intercollegiate athletics, announced the establishment of the Eric LeGrand Believe Fund, which will benefit from a January 30 fundraiser during which prominent New Brunswick restaurants will donate 50 percent of proceeds from presold tickets for their special menus (visit newbrunswickrocks.com/eric-legrand). To help raise more money, Steve Ostergren, the owner of the Scarlet Fever clothing store, introduced a T-shirt with the words “Believe 52” on the front and “Keep Chopping” on the back; a similar shirt is being sold at the Rutgers University Bookstore in New Brunswick. In late November, LeGrand, recovering at Kessler Institute in West Orange, New Jersey, was able to breathe on his own, and his status was upgraded to an “incomplete spinal cord injury.” Early in January, LeGrand revealed in an interview with ESPN that he had sensation throughout his body and movement in his shoulders. In December, LeGrand won the 2010 Discover Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. But the Rutgers community knew that LeGrand’s courage had long been a foregone conclusion.