Taliaferro still hard at work

Adam Taliaferro with Lauren Shevchek, who was paralyzed last year in a diving accident. MARC NARDUCCI / Staff
Adam Taliaferro with Lauren Shevchek, who was paralyzed last year in a diving accident. MARC NARDUCCI / Staff
Posted: April 07, 2014

When Adam Taliaferro sees a youngster in a wheelchair, it hits home, and that is one reason the former Eastern football star remains one of the top quarterbacks in South Jersey.

His team is the Adam Taliaferro Foundation, and it provides emotional, financial, and educational support to student athletes who suffer catastrophic head or spinal injuries.

Taliaferro's story has been well documented. A 2000 Eastern graduate, he was paralyzed while making a tackle for Penn State in a game that same year.

He has made a remarkable recovery, and at 32, he still looks in playing shape, the by-product of usually spending an hour a day on an elliptical.

Since his foundation was formed, more than $1 million has been raised. While Taliaferro says it's the work of foundation president Tom Iacovone and countless others, he still remains the inspirational leader.

Recently, the rosters were announced for the Adam Taliaferro Foundation-South Jersey Football Coaches Association All-Star Classic.

The game, which will take place July 2 at Rowan University, features many of the top graduating seniors in South Jersey. (For more on the game and the foundation, go to www.taliaferrofoundation.org.)

Taliaferro, a lawyer and a Gloucester County Freeholder, makes it a point to meet with the people the foundation is attempting to help.

"When I see them, I see myself," he said. "I was that person in the wheelchair that needed help and assistance."

And that is simply what drives him and his foundation.

"To offer help and assistance is a passion of mine and always will be because I was fortunate to have that support," he said. "I want everybody to have the same chance."

One example of the good that the organization does is the recent grant provided to the family of 19-year-old Lauren Shevchek for a handicapped-accessible van.

A 2012 graduate of Council Rock South in Bucks County, Shevchek was paralyzed last year in a diving accident.

"What they have done has been a godsend to me," she said.

Not surprisingly, she bonded quickly with Taliaferro.

"Adam is such an awesome guy," Shevchek said. "He is one of the kindest people I ever met."

Taliaferro's leadership on the football field simply has been transferred to his foundation.

"Adam is the linchpin of this whole thing," Iacovone said.

The organization, with a dedicated board of directors, has grown exponentially.

"The foundation has become much bigger than we envisioned but, unfortunately, fulfilling the needs of others is our biggest challenge," Iacovone said.

And another challenge is fund-raising, which is where the football game comes in.

"It is our biggest fund-raiser," Iacovone said.

That's why the participants are asked to sell tickets and ads for the program books, and the foundation is always looking for corporate sponsors and donors.

Last year's game drew 4,500 fans, according to the foundation, and there is true sense of spirit at the event.

Besides giving accomplished athletes one last chance to represent their schools, the game is a celebration of South Jersey football and the connection with helping others.

"We are thankful for the support from the coaches, the high schools, and the players who bring family, friends, and teammates to this game," Taliaferro said. "It is a great day for South Jersey."

And it is spearheaded by one of South Jersey's best all-time football players, who has turned into an even better humanitarian.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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