In August of 2016, former New Canaan lacrosse star Graham Harden received the heartbreaking diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. For those of you who are not aware of Grahams’ lacrosse accomplishments, Graham was a first team All American defenseman, won the Schmeisser Cup as the National Defenseman of the Year and was named ACC Player of the Year in 1991 for the NCAA Champion UNC Tarheels. In 2002, he was named to the list of the 50 greatest ACC men’s lacrosse players of all time. His brothers Boyd and Holmes were also All American defensemen at UNC. Next month on November 19th, Graham will be inducted into the Connecticut lacrosse Hall of Fame.
ALS robs its victims of the ability to walk, dress themselves, talk, swallow, and ultimately breathe, all the while leaving their minds intact. ALS has no cure and no effective treatment and an average lifespan from diagnosis of 3-5 years. Yet, none of you will be surprised to hear that Graham is doing whatever he can to fight this disease and to prolong the progression to its more debilitating stages. He is one of the toughest competitors we all know and his motto is, "Game on, ALS!"
The New Canaan lacrosse community has offered to dedicate the 2017 Darien vs New Canaan Boys and Girls lacrosse games to help Grahams’ family and raise awareness for ALS. Both games will be played on Saturday, April 29th, in New Canaan, at Dunning Stadium.
Graham and his family will face extraordinary medical and incidental expenses as a result of this diagnosis. Estimates for medical costs alone range from $200,000-$300,000/year, most of which encompass the ventilation, feeding tube, and in-home care and are not covered by insurance. Additional expenses will include an estimated:
• $60,000 for updating their existing home or buying a ranch style home to accommodate a wheelchair and a ground floor bedroom and bathroom;
• $50,000 for purchasing a wheelchair, patient lift, and suction machine;
• $40,000 for a specialized van;
• $30,000 for participation in long-term clinical trials for 2 years;
• $10,000 for computer eye gaze technology allowing Graham (who, like all ALS patients, will retain the use of his eye muscles despite complete paralysis) to continue interacting with family, friends, and work.
As many of you know, Graham and Dawn also have 3 children and while additional resources at their current and future colleges may become available to them as a result of this diagnosis, it is likely that they will still face $200,000 or more in out-of-pocket expenses to finance their education.
No one knows how long Graham will be able to fight this disease but we are all assuming he’ll battle it longer than the average and be with us for 10+ years, hence the need to act now.
Graham and Dawn have spent their lives giving selflessly to their community. Graham is a volunteer firefighter and first responder as well as a gifted boys and girls high school lacrosse coach. He is a treasured friend to his former classmates and teammates at New Canaan High, Deerfield, and UNC, and to his friends and neighbors in the Terrace Park/Mariemont community. It is heartwarming to see all of these people stand behind Graham and his family with the rallying cry, “G-Force, Game On!”
For those of you who are able to help defray the mountain of expenses facing Graham and his family, we are deeply grateful. Your contributions will allow him to face this insidious disease with dignity and pride. We have gotten many questions on how to help, here is the fastest way: https://www.youcaring.com/GrahamHarden
Keep people connected and apprised of Graham’s progress; links to Ways to Help
Checks can be made payable to the following:
Graham Harden II Family Trust, Harden Family Trust, or GForce (all acceptable and go to sole family trust)
Mailing Address: Attn: Shea Harden (Grahams sister)
P.O. Box 1411
Los Altos, CA94023
Donations are going to benefit the Harden family and, therefore, by law, are not tax deductible.