Hal Hargrave Jr., left, who is paralyzed from the neck down after a car crash when he was 17, shares a laugh with his trainer Chris Fitzgerald during his physical therapy session at a gym in Claremont, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. After years of grueling physical therapy, Hargrave started the nonprofit Be Perfect Foundation and raised $2 million to help other young people who couldn’t afford the same kind of rehabilitation program made available to him. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
CLAREMONT, Calif. (AP) — As he rolls through the front door of the sprawling Claremont Club fitness center and shouts a friendly hello here and there, for just a moment it’s as if nothing has changed since Hal Hargrave Jr. was the big, friendly teenage gym rat who haunted this place.
The burly Hargrave’s head was filled with dreams of playing college baseball as he strode into the gym, stretched out on a bench and pressed 300 pounds above his body. Again and again.
He’s still big and burly, his arms still muscular and he still works out nearly every day. Only these days Hargrave uses that strength to move his wheelchair in and out of the gym, where he still works out 20 hours a week and knows just about everybody in the place.
These days, though, Hargrave’s goal is to get walking again, something he lost the ability to do on July 26, 2007, when he swerved his truck to avoid debris in the road. It flipped four times, the cab collapsing on him and snapping his spine. It left him paralyzed from the neck down.
The irony is never lost on Hargrave that he was delivering handicapped-accessible bathroom doors as part of a summer job. If it was a sign to a strapping 17-year-old athlete that his life was headed in the wrong direction, it would seem to have been a Login to read more