Rutgers coach Greg Schiano has forged a bond with Special Olympics New Jersey, and so have his players. That is especially evident this year.
Schiano has served as the honorary head coach for the organization in the past, and his players have come out to the opening ceremonies for the Summer Games to walk with the Special Olympians during the Parade of Athletes that kicks off the event. The players line up with the athletes before the ceremony begins and sign autographs, take photos, and give many high fives.
But this year, Schiano is unable to make the opening because of a family event. So somebody else is taking his place. Eric LeGrand will lead the athletes into the stadium at The College of New Jersey during the Opening Ceremony on June 10 and will also address the crowd from the stage. LeGrand attended the event last year and marched in with his teammates and Special Olympians.
He requested to join the Parade of Athletes again this year.
LeGrand is paralyzed from the shoulders down after getting injured while making a tackle against Army last October. He sits in a motorized wheelchair he controls with his mouth, but is hopeful that one day he will be able to walk again. Perhaps he can serve as an inspiration to all the Special Olympians he will meet later this month.