In day-to-day life, we all face obstacles. Some are bigger than others. Some are MUCH bigger than others. Life gave 19-year-old Adam Taliaferro an obstacle larger than most of us could begin to imagine.
While playing football for Penn State in a game against rival Ohio State in the fall of 2000, Adam Taliaferro made a routine helmet-to-helmet tackle that changed the course of his life in an instant.
As he lay motionless on the field, Adam, who had always been physically strong, kept thinking to himself, "Get up, get up!" while the team's medical personnel calmly but firmly told him to stay still as they immobilized him on a stretcher.
Former Penn State University football player Adam
Taliaferro on the field at Beaver stadium following his recovery from an in jury in 2000 that left him paralyzed.
"You know how it feels when your hand goes to sleep or your leg?" Adam described, "That's what I felt laying there. I remember not being able to feel anything, except it felt like my whole body fell asleep. I didn't know what was going on."
What happened was worse than anyone first thought: Adam's neck was broken and he was paralyzed.
Described as "sleek and speedy" at 5-feet, 11-inches and 183 pounds, Adam had been a standout football player throughout high school and earned the rare honor of playing as a true freshman at Penn State. After the injury and spinal fusion surgery, he was given only a 3 percent chance of ever walking again. Adam had very different ideas about his recovery and today he not only walks, but he walks well.
Though playing football no longer is in Adam's future, his inspirational tale of recovery has been followed by many around the nation. Authors Scott Brown and Sam Carchidi chronicled his remarkable story in their 2001 book "Miracle in the Making."
Adam will make a much-anticipated special appearance locally at Tailgate at The Dome April 17 at the Generations Sports Complex Dome in Muncy. The event is hosted by Lycoming County United Way as a fundraiser.
"Tailgate at the Dome is a fun and unique event bringing Penn State football greats to Lycoming County for meet and greet, autographs and photos; plus tailgate-style food, memorabilia auctions, player interviews, kids' activities and more," explained volunteer event chairman Gabe Sinicropi.
Tickets for Tailgate at the Dome are on sale through Lycoming County United Way. Tickets can be purchased at the LCUW office, 1225 Clayton Ave., Williamsport; by calling 323-9448, or by faxing-mailing the printable order form on lcuw.org.
"We know there are a lot of loyal Penn State fans in this community, so we wanted to make the tickets available early because they make great Christmas presents," Sinicropi added.
In addition to Adam, Blair Thomas will be another featured guest at Tailgate at the Dome and several other current and former players will be announced soon.
"I have been so fortunate to have had the opportunity to play football for an organization like Penn State, which then propelled my career into the NFL," said Thomas.
"Although pro sports bring the ability to enjoy a nice lifestyle, I never forgot what my mom always taught me: 'treat others the way you want to be treated.' This has stayed with me and has been the primary influence of why I want to give back through charities, whether it is giving of my time, donated items, or helping to organize events."
Now an attorney in Philadelphia, Adam has started his own foundation - the Adam Taliaferro Foundation - that provides emotional, financial and educational support to student athletes who suffer catastrophic head or spinal injuries in sanctioned team events in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The Foundation also conducts educational seminars for health care professionals to discuss the latest injury prevention, treatment, management and rehabilitation techniques. Through his foundation, Adam continues to provide hope for so many people who think there is no reason to hope at all.
"It is a pleasure to see public figures like Adam and Blair take the time to support non-profit organizations like United Way," Sinicropi said. "They have very demanding careers and countless other responsibilities. If they can find time for charity work, we all can."