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4 years ago today…. Thank You!

When I think back on the past four years the first thing that comes to mind is “ wow I cannot believe it has already gone by that fast and been that long.” Today, July 26, 2011, marks the four-year point since the day that my accident occurred. And you can give it several names. My anniversary, my day of doom, the worst day of my life, the most significant day of my life, my most memorable day of my life, a car accident that left me paralyzed from the neck down, or simply just what I refer to it as now, my new birthday. A birthday is most commonly celebrated on the day in which a person was born. A celebration of an occasion in which somebody came to life. To myself my new birthday on July 26, 2007 is far more important to me than August 14, 1989. Even though the first 17 years of my life were among the greatest and helped get me to where I am today, I feel as if I have learned, lived, laughed, loved and accomplished more in the past four years than I have ever before. July 26, 2007 may have been the most devastating day my life, but at the same time I was resurrected and reborn a second time and come back as a new person. You all might agree with what I’m saying simply just from the physical aspect of my life and how it has changed and made me a new person, but let me just reassure the fact that this isn’t the type of new person that I am referring to. I think it would be pretty easy to say that I was fairly young when this had happened to me, and I had to start living life as a quadriplegic. A phrase and a term that absolutely cannot stand to hear. From the moment that I had gotten hurt I was forced to grow up and become a man. At that point in time I really knew what was in front of me, what was ahead of me, and the path that I needed to take to get there. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and I definitely knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it alone. So here I stand/ sit four years later telling you my story of how I’ve become a young man that was reborn again. Prior to my injury, my whole life was devoted to family, friends, sports and athletics. I lived a great life with much support, much self pride, hard-working and motivated attitude with a passion to succeed in no matter what it is that I had put my mind to. I have an unbelievable group of friends. Friends that I knew would be there no matter what the circumstances were and no matter at what cost it would take. Needless to say, my group of friends loves each other unconditionally. Meaning that our love for each other as friends we would keep intact and go to any extent and any costs in order to make our friendships and love for each other last forever. Whether it was a testament to my judgment or simply my friends having their colors shine through, on July 26, 2007 I’m here to tell you that all those people that I thought would be there for me, were definitely the ones that were there for hours upon hours in the hospital, hours upon hours after I got out of the hospital and now for the rest of my life. Did they prove me wrong? To tell you the truth, yes they absolutely did. Did I think that they would all be around still? Yes, but where they prove me wrong was how they went about things and would do things for me without even asking. Being there right by my side without even asking. Showing up without even asking. Keeping me motivated without even knowing. Pushing me without even knowing. Getting me up out of bed in the morning without even knowing. And being the most unbelievable group of friends and support structure in the world without even knowing. Yes, these are my friends, family and support. So for all of my friends and family that did all those things for me without even knowing, I hope all of you know now what you mean to me, how far you have brought me and how far you’ll take me and my recovery. Yes we will walk together. Will it be tomorrow? Maybe not. But if I can be selfish for one moment and ask you all the biggest favor that I’ve ever asked for in my life, it’s that can you please keep believing in me and my cause, my recovery, my ability, my strength, my perseverance and my appreciative attitude of having you all my life. Can you please keep coming around and being there for me. If you can do this for me I can assure you that we will all walk together someday soon. I understand that this is a lot to ask and is very selfish on my part, and I know that I will never be able to return the favor and will be indebted for the rest of my life to all of you, but I’m just hoping that I can try and hold up my end of the stick and in some way affect all of your lives in some way that is nonphysical, and hopefully return the favor by helping you all get out of bed in the morning and giving you that motivation. My biggest fear after I’ve gotten hurt was my acceptance into this world again. I feared all of you would not see me for myself anymore. Early on I tried to stress the fact to all of you that I was still the same “HAL”, regardless of my ability to walk and my wheelchair. The greatest feeling of all, was that you all actually believe me when I said that, and that you all have continued to see me for myself. That to me it has been the greatest gift in the world that God has given me, other than my own personal one of living with this injury. You all might think I’m crazy when I say that I truly am living my life with a gift. But let me just reassure all of you of my whole philosophy of life, and how things happen for a reason and how I am getting an opportunity to experience something that almost all of you reading this won’t. I won’t try and be all philosophical other than saying that I feel as if I am all of you guys as Jesus Christ, in which my accident was a symbol of hopefully dying on the cross for all of you and taking all of your pains and sins away by having to live my life with this injury. I’m hoping that my philosophy is true, and that if I can alter any of your lives, change any of your perceptions, or motivate any of you in some small way. If I can do that than this injury, this occurrence, this lifestyle was the best decision of my life, the greatest gift of all and more rewarding than anything I’ve ever put my heart and soul into as long as I’ve lived. I have come to realize that there is zero point to life without friends, acquaintances, boyfriends and girlfriends and most importantly family. If you don’t have any of that, you have nothing. If you don’t have any of that, you don’t have sports. If you don’t have any of that, you don’t have motivation. If you don’t have any of that, you don’t have a reason to live. If you don’t have any of that, you cannot fulfill your purpose. If you don’t have any of that, you cannot be yourself. I have come to realize all of this at what I feel and what I have heard is a young age to have realized. I have been fortunate to do so because it has given me such a great and positive outlook on life in which I live my life so much more appreciative for what I have, so much more grateful for what I have lived for, so much more blessed for the people around me and so much more motivated for what lies ahead of me. Let me just reiterate the fact, that I did not figure this all out on my own. It was because of all of you, that I finally came to my senses and realized what I had around me. As a teenager graduating high school and going off to college, most of us think we have a general idea of who we are, where we are going and maybe what we want to do with the rest of our lives. But none of us ever seen to take the time just stop and think for a second what would happen if those ideas and plans went off course and adversity hit. How would we react? What would we do next? Could we get through it? Would we survive? Would we give up that? Or would you get back up and keep pushing forward? We all just assume everything is going to go according to plan and that nothing could ever happen to us. It always takes something drastic, life changing, lifestyle altering and unfortunately tragedy in order to get us to change our perceptions of life and how we approach it. It essentially takes a slap in the face to give us all a realization how grateful we need to be for what we have. Why’s that so? Why can’t we all just realized that before the fact and not have to go through so much in order to get the big picture? It’s because we are all so naïve to everything in life. Just when you think you know it all, you learn something new. Just when you think you have it all, you lose something in a heartbeat. Just when you think you have something figured out, a new problem arises. Just when you think you have your life handed to you, it’s all taken away in a split second. Just when you think you know your true friends, they change your perceptions of them. And just when you think you know who you are, you realize there’s so much little that you know about yourself, what you are capable of, how much you can endure, how much you can take and handle, how hard you can push, and most importantly what you have to offer to the world. This is why life is priceless and it simply can’t be taught, just learned. You can be taught certain aspects of life, certain ways you should approach it, but you simply can’t be taught how to live it. We are all different in so many ways, which is why the world goes round. We all have a different purpose and a different aspect of ourselves to offer to the world. Things in which, they are not duplicated in any other person, which is why there is only one of us on the world. We simply cannot be duplicated, replicated or copied in any way shape or form and that’s something we should all value in each other. The fact in which we will not find the same qualities in two different people. It’s a simple analogy that I give to all of the sports teams that I go and talk to. No matter how good or bad the team is, I stress the fact that they are still a team and that they are “ONE”. That is something that should be valued amongst all of them. The fact that after that particular season is over, it will never be the same exact group of guys, the same exact team, the same exact chemistry, let alone the same exact moment that all of those individuals are spending together. Those are the things in life that should be valued and should be held onto forever before it’s too late. I’ve come to realize not only has the past four years taught me a lot about myself, about life, about spinal cord injury, but more importantly it has taught me a lot about all of you. Thing’s that I am going to value and hold onto forever. I truly believe that I have finally found my true self, my true calling in life and my true purpose, devoting my life to helping other people an starting The Be Perfect Foundation, which has changed the lives of hundreds and only three short years. Which has only led me to believe that things in life truly do happen for a reason. Because I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be who I am today, wouldn’t be where I am today, know what I know today and most importantly achieved what I have achieved until this point had it not been for this accident but most importantly had it not been for all of you. I thank you all for that so much. For all the people that my family has met along the way, all of the people that have stepped up into our lives, all the people that have been there prior and until this point, and even the people that were there early on and have moved on with their lives, you all have impacted me in some way as well as my family and that’s something that we can value forever. To all my close family friends, my close guy and girl friends, my girlfriend and most importantly my family you guys are my reasons for getting up out of bed in the morning, and I will try to do so every day for the rest of my life and not let you down. All of you people know who you are and what you mean to me, but for those who continue to be there for me day in and day out, I know that you definitely know who you are. You all are my heroes. As for my combination of care,(Casa Colina, Project Walk, Claremont Club) everyone involved at each facility, staff, my trainers and all who have come to watch and cheer me on; you all have educated me so well about this injury, this lifestyle, life decisions but most importantly pushed me far past the point of mere mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. Which has helped me discover a side of myself I didn’t know existed that has helped me exceed even my own expectations of myself. I have not settled, never taken no for an answer, never lost hope, never believed the ones who had doubts, and never game up because all of you. You all have made my road to recovery easy and this detour the least bumpy road that I could have possibly of traveled. I have been reborn and resurrected once again and I have found who I am. My name is Hal Hargrave. I am 21 years old in four short years ago, on July 26, 2007 I was reborn, after I sustained a spinal cord injury that left me paralyzed from the neck down. It could’ve wrecked me, left me depressed, left me hopeless and left me searching for answers I couldn’t find. I found out the answers to all of these questions through the power of my support structure. I have realized I am still the athlete I was before…I found out that this injury wasn’t about the physical capacity that I had or physical paralysis that was put upon me, to overcome his injury, but more importantly overcoming the mental and emotional paralysis that this injury can leave you with. Once I figured that out, I finally found my true self again.Due to the account of all these great people and amazing life I have found myself and I have figured out life……………. For now………… Be Perfect

Thank you to all who have supported me, the foundation and to all who have donated to this great cause… We’ve raised $800,000 in 3 short years! PERFECT… Lets keep changing PERCEPTIONS… Hope to see you all at Be Perfect 4.0 this year on Sept. 24! Love you all!!

To all my SCI buddies keep pushing and stepping forward I promise you we will get there…