Gloucester County Freeholder Adam Taliaferro gives motivational speech to special needs students in Woodbury
As published in the Gloucester County Courier Times
A dozen years later, Taliaferro stood tall before Durand Academy’s special needs students on Thursday and told them they could do anything they wanted.
“You all have something special within you,” Taliaferro said to about 40 of the school’s students before starting off the annual student-teacher kickball match.
“And you guys are all probably better kick players than me,” he said. “But most importantly, you guys can overcome anything it is that comes before you in life ... In each and every day of your life, try to make yourself just a little bit better.”
Taliaferro’s motivational talk came as an added bonus for the students, who spent the morning at Woodbury’s Little League field celebrating the school’s annual, activity-filled Durand Academy Field Day.
The academy — founded in 1972 as Sunny Day School — serves students with learning disabilities and behavioral challenges in grades K through 12.
“He’s an inspiration,” said Durand Principal Dr. Tom Ryan. “To bring someone around who has overcome incredible odds and challenges is something our students need to see.”
“Everyone faces challenges,” Ryan added. “[Taliaferro’s] were physical, and our students face mental challenges. But they’re challenges nonetheless.”
Taliaferro had just begun his college football career when he became paralyzed from the neck down. Subject of the book “Miracle in the Making,” Taliaferro was able to walk eight months after his injury and moved on to start a foundation to support others with spinal cord injuries.
After he spoke to students, parents and staff, Taliaferro was presented with a plaque signed by the students.
“I think this is great,” said Howard Goldberg, grandfather of a one of the academy’s students. “The staff really goes out of their way for these kids. It’s inspiring to see that people care for the kids so much.”
Durand Academy is just one facet of the multi-service agency, Durand Academy and Community Services.
Durand also operates group homes, respite services, and training programs to serve adults with developmental disabilities in Camden, Salem, Burlington, Cumberland and Gloucester counties.Contact
Jessica Bautista at 856-686-3729 or firstname.lastname@example.org