Thursday, 18 July 2013 00:00
On July 9, Gabriel Cordell marked the end of his heroic cross-country journey in a wheelchair at the YMCA at Glen Cove. Cordell, a native Long Islander, was the victim of a car accident 20 years ago that left him a paraplegic. Over the last 99 days, Cordell travelled 3,100 miles —from California to his childhood home of Long Island – and celebrated his feat at the YMCA in Glen Cove. All along his endeavor, Cordell visited various YMCAs, which he has said “has been a safe haven for him,” and has given him the inspiration to push past his perceived limits to achieve his potential.
YMCA of Long Island President and CEO Anne N. Brigis welcomed Cordell and thanked him for being a role model and motivational force to people of all ages and abilities.
Brigis said, “We are extremely proud that Gabriel found support and encouragement at the YMCA. We are so moved by his courage, determination and spirit.”
Cordell spent close to an hour speaking with campers at the YMCA and entertaining their questions. He told a group of about forty 9-10 year-olds, “Changing yourself starts with yourself but is supported by the people around you. At the Y, I found a new family that showed me how to overcome my vices and do something with myself, but still for others.”
In 1992, Cordell was a 22-year- old aspiring actor driving to his first audition in New York City when his life was permanently altered. A driver ran a red light and hit Cordell’s jeep. Cordell flew into a telephone pole, crushing his spinal cord at the sixth thoracic vertebrate.
“My condition was caused by an accident, but it did not happen by accident,” said Cordell. “I felt I was meant to do something big and the wheelchair is my vehicle for doing it.”
Cordell and his crew have already captured the hearts of thousands of people across the nation, with many following him on Facebook and via his website www.rollwithme.org.
Says Cordell, “People say we inspire them and I feel the impact of their support tenfold. I’ve been moved to tears so many times that I’ve lost count but connecting with the people I meet never gets old.”
A feature length documentary about Gabriel’s endeavor is in the works.