Ben Abercrombie back on campus

Asia's Tech News Daily

After spinal-cord injury left him paralyzed, Ben Abercrombie returned to finish what he started and battle to get back what he lost

Twice a week, Ben Abercrombie works out at a therapy center for people with spinal-cord injuries. “They’re always pushing me as hard as I can go … It brings back old football days of hard work … and just the mindset to keep pushing and never give up.” Video by Justin Saglio/Harvard Staff

After spinal-cord injury left him paralyzed, Ben Abercrombie returned to finish what he started and battle to get back what he lost

Ben Abercrombie wants you to know that he’s back.

Abercrombie, originally a member of the Class of 2021, was left paralyzed after being injured in his first game as a Crimson football player in September 2017. He fought like hell to get himself ready to return to campus, and is now continuing that battle to reach all the physical and academic goals he has set for himself. Period.

“I’m determined to get back up,” Abercrombie declared from the custom electric wheelchair he uses to navigate campus, a gift from the many friends and believers who have held numerous fundraisers on his behalf, including one coming up Dec. 7 at El Jefe’s.

A celebrated football recruit from Alabama, Abercrombie came to Harvard in the fall of 2017. He suffered a severe cervical spinal-cord injury during a routine tackle in the away season opener against the University of Rhode Island. The hit broke his C-4 vertebra, dislocated his C-3, damaged his phrenic nerve, and left him paralyzed from the neck down and dependent on a ventilator.

Abercrombie spent the next two years with a goal of returning to Harvard. In 2019, he did, and he is now working toward a degree in economics. He hopes to become a financial manager for professional athletes when he graduates.

He is also set on making a recovery. A full recovery.

“Because why not?” Abercrombie said. “Why would I want to be in the chair for the rest of my life? I mean, if that’s what God has in store for me — that I’ll be in the chair for the rest of my life — then so be it, but I’m definitely going to try to get back up and be the best I can be.”

fundraisers, Benson M. Abercrombie ’21 Fund, Harvard Varsity Club, here, Rallying for one of their own

Abercrombie navigates campus using a custom electric wheelchair that was a gift from the many who have held fundraisers on his behalf, including one coming up Dec. 7 at El Jefe’s. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

To those who know him, his effort speaks to the unrelenting drive that’s always been there.

“He just doesn’t let hurdles prevent him from getting to his ultimate goals,” said Abercrombie’s father, Marty Abercrombie, a restaurant manager from Hoover, a suburb outside Birmingham.

Tim Murphy, the Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football, said it was this kind of attitude and perseverance that impressed him when he helped recruit Abercrombie from Hoover High School. It still impresses him.

“Now more than ever Ben’s work ethic and resiliency are evident on a daily basis,” said Murphy, who meets with Abercrombie weekly. “Even with such a great family and support team, nothing comes easy. Everything is a grind, and yet never a discouraging word … I have never seen any ‘woe is me,’ any self-pity from Ben, and that speaks volumes of his character and resiliency.”

fundraisers, Benson M. Abercrombie ’21 Fund, Harvard Varsity Club, here, Rallying for one of their own

Abercrombie lives in a modified suite in Winthrop House with his parents, Marty and Sherri, who is a registered nurse. His parents recently took over all of his care because the pandemic made recruiting nurses harder. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Abercrombie has been taking two courses a semester since his return. He is determined to graduate, this time as a member of the class of 2023. This semester he is taking microeconomics and a course on Greek mythology.

For the most part, Abercrombie says his return to Harvard has been what he expected. “It’s definitely busy. The classes can be difficult … But it’s Harvard,” he said with a shrug and a smile. “It’s a fun experience and feels good to get things rolling again.”

One of the most difficult parts of being back in School has been getting his schedule right, he said, because of the hours of daily care and physical rehabilitation he requires. But he and his parents, who live on campus with him, have developed a routine:

Up about 7 a.m., he is put in a specialized vest, then given a nebulizer treatment to clear his airways. After catching up on ESPN and eating breakfast, he does range-of-motion exercises to keep his joints from stiffening. This happens twice a day. On days he doesn’t have his 10:30 a.m. economics class, showering comes next, and then he’s back in bed to warm up.

“People with spinal cord injuries, they have trouble regulating their temperature,” Abercrombie explained. “So out of the shower, I’m all wet and cold, and so they’ll put me back in bed and just give me a few blankets so I’ll warm up.”

The morning routine takes about three to four hours. Lately his parents have had to take over all of his care because the pandemic made recruiting nurses harder. Whatever class he has that day determines what time he heads out, what homework he does, and sometimes which tutoring session and professor he meets.

fundraisers, Benson M. Abercrombie ’21 Fund, Harvard Varsity Club, here, Rallying for one of their own

“A good day is getting all my goals accomplished. It’s nice to keep a fast, steady pace.” Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Some days he has chiropractor appointments at the Harvard Athletics Complex, and twice a week he works out at Journey Forward, a therapy center about a half hour away in Canton, Mass., for people with spinal-cord injuries. The workouts are mainly to keep his muscle tone intact with the hope that his body will eventually recognize the signals his brain is sending and generate recovery or movement. In 2019, he was able to walk on a robotic treadmill called a Lokomat for the first time.

Ever the athlete, it’s at these rehab workouts where Abercrombie truly comes alive, often smiling as trainers put him through exercises like helping him furiously rotate an arm cycle machine or standing him up on a power plate machine for a whole-body vibration.

“They’re very knowledgeable. They’re not afraid to put their hands on me,” Abercrombie said. “They’re always pushing me as hard as I can go to make sure I get the most out of the exercise we are doing. … It brings back old football days of hard work … and just the mindset to keep pushing and never give up.”

Abercrombie also has a specialized exercise bike in his room. He tries to get on it at least three times a week when he has the time. “That’s pretty much like the whole productive part of the day,” Abercrombie said.

Ben’s evening routine starts around 6 p.m. when he stands up for an hour in his wheelchair. Dinner comes next, and he’s in bed around 8:30 p.m. for more exercises, another respiratory treatment, and hour-long breathing exercises on a ventilator. The nighttime routine lasts usually well past midnight.

“A good day is getting all my goals accomplished,” Abercrombie said. “It’s nice to keep a fast, steady pace moving so I can get everything completed to where I can get some sleep. And my parents need some sleep, too.”

fundraisers, Benson M. Abercrombie ’21 Fund, Harvard Varsity Club, here, Rallying for one of their own

John Schall, owner of El Jefe’s Taqueria in Harvard Square, hosts an annual fundraising day when all revenue from sales and donations goes to the Benson M. Abercrombie ’21 Fund. This year's is set for Dec. 7. File photo by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Abercrombie and his parents live at Winthrop House.

“Obviously, we’re a bit closer,” said Sherri Abercrombie, who is a registered nurse. “We spend all day together so we’re mother and son and caretaker and (hopefully) friend.”

Her assessment seems right. The two at times banter playfully with one another. After his mom finished adjusting the position of his wheelchair, Abercrombie wasn’t so sure he was perfectly upright.

“My mom says I’m straight no matter what,” Abercrombie said.

“It’s ’cause I’m tired of adjusting!” she shot back, laughing.

In 2019 and early 2020, the mother-son duo split a suite in Weld Hall that was modified by Harvard’s Accessible Education Office, which also made sure the buildings where Abercrombie had class were wheelchair-accessible. The suite at Winthrop House has also been modified.

Separated by a hallway, Abercrombie’s half of the Winthrop suite has a mix of medical supplies and dorm decor, complete with posters of sports teams, pictures of himself or friends, a large flat-screen, and flags. In the room there is also a hydraulic, full-body lift used to help transfer Abercrombie from bed to wheelchair. It was purchased by Harvard College and will be made available to another Harvard student who needs it after Abercrombie graduates.

Abercrombie said he and his parents have slowly started adjusting to living in a dorm again after 18 months of remote learning. During the pandemic, the family said they were extra careful because of Abercrombie’s added risk of COVID-19, and spent time only with close family and friends. Abercrombie rehabbed at home with a trainer.

Like most students, Ben has been excited to be back on campus. “It’s been good to be back and actually meet with professors and things like that and meet new people around in the hall of my dorm and in my classes,” he said.

His parents say that even when they are walking around campus without their son, people ask them how he is doing. It speaks to the support the Harvard community has provided since the injury, the family said.

John Schall, owner of El Jefe’s Taqueria in Harvard Square, hosts an annual fundraising day when all revenue from sales and donations goes to the Benson M. Abercrombie ’21 Fund. Former teammate Raishaun McGhee ’17 started a yearly Bowl for Ben event that also donates all proceeds to the Abercrombie Fund.

The fund, started by the Harvard Varsity Club, has raised more than $600,000 to date and has paid for a number of medical costs not covered by insurance, ranging from a customized van and wheelchair to sessions at Journey Forward and flights for treatments and doctors’ visits. Last year, the Varsity Club started an annual 5K for Abercrombie, as well.

“I couldn’t ask for better support,” Abercrombie said. “I’ve been truly blessed by everybody here and back home in Hoover.”

Abercrombie knows his body has a long way to go. He and his family stay abreast of the most current spinal-cord research, and regularly meet with doctors about treatments that could help him. They hope he can qualify for experimental treatments. His immediate priority is getting off the ventilator, and he has had procedures to help with this.

“It’s like I can feel my muscles, but they just don’t want to move,” Abercrombie said. As it is with anyone who’s suffered a spinal-cord injury — especially one as grave as Abercrombie’s — it could take years to see results, if any.

Still, Abercrombie says he will push through any dark personal moments he may have, and never relent on achieving his goal.

“I have faith in God and know that I will be healed eventually,” Abercrombie said. “It’s just a matter of time.”

Contributions to the Harvard Varsity Club’s Benson M. Abercrombie ’21 Fund can be made here. On Dec. 7 El Jefe’s in Harvard Square is holding the fourth Annual Ben Abercrombie Day. All of the sales that day, including digital gift cards, will be donated to the fund. 


fundraisers, Benson M. Abercrombie ’21 Fund, Harvard Varsity Club, here, Rallying for one of their own

Rallying for one of their own

Harvard community shows strong support for injured student Ben Abercrombie

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


PM's former top aide to give evidence to parties investigation

Boris Johnson’s former chief aide is expected to give evidence to an inquiry into alleged rule-busting parties held across Whitehall during coronavirus restrictions. Dominic Cummings who worked in Downing Street ... Read more »

Weird Al mocks Harry Potter after Daniel Radcliffe cast in biopic about comedian

© Getty Images Daniel Radcliffe / Weird Al Yankovic Daniel Radcliffe is taking on his weirdest role yet. The actor will be playing the lead in the new biopic comedy ... Read more »

Government accused of having ‘no plan' to reduce Channel crossings as Ghana denies offshoring talks

The government has been accused of having “no plan” to curb Channel crossings as it emerged that reports ministers were in talks with Ghana about creating an offshore processing hub ... Read more »

Matt Hancock's swim in Serpentine ‘broke rules', says angry club member

Conservative MP Matt Hancock “definitely broke the rules” with an impromptu swim in London’s Serpentine, a member of lake’s swimming club has told The Independent. The former health secretary was ... Read more »

Brighton vs Chelsea predicted line-ups: Team news ahead of Premier League fixture tonight

© REUTERS Danny Welbeck celebrates scoring the equaliser for Brighton at Chelsea – REUTERS Chelsea travel to Brighton looking to bounce back after suffering defeat at Man City to likely ... Read more »

Texas synagogue siege: Teenagers arrested in Manchester released without charge

© Independent Breaking News Two teenagers arrested in Manchester after a British gunman took hostages at a Texas synagogue have been released without charge. From news to politics, travel to ... Read more »

EastEnders favourite Michael Greco pops up in Holby City 20 years after soap exit

EastEnders fans are set to go wild when a Walford favourite from two decades ago pops up in tonight’s episode of long-running medical drama Holby City. Michael Greco found fame ... Read more »

Who is Brianna Kupfer? Everything we know about UCLA grad student's fatal stabbing

Brianna Kupfer has been described by loved ones as a “kind soul” who “glowed with positivity”. At the time of her death, the 24-year-old was seeking a graduate degree in ... Read more »

Conservative MPs raise concerns over move to enshrine animal feelings in law

Boris Johnson has been accused by a Tory MP of “driving a coach and horses straight at our core supporters” via new legislation to recognise that animals have feelings. The ... Read more »

Italian couple win 19-year battle with neighbours over noisy loo

© ullstein bild via Getty Images Toilet seat Italy’s top court has enshrined the right to protection from loud lavatories after a 19-year battle between a tired couple and their ... Read more »

Cooking with Paris: Netflix viewers furious after star's show is cancelled

© KIT KARZEN/NETFLIX Paris Hilton as seen in a promotional image for her new Netflix series – Netflix Netflix has decided to cancel Paris Hilton’s culinary TV show Cooking with ... Read more »

Frank Lampard to be interviewed for Everton job as Belgium fight to keep Roberto Martinez

Frank Lampard will be interviewed for the Everton job with Roberto Martinez seemingly unable to be prised away from Belgium. Martinez is the overwhelming first-choice to succeed Rafael Benitez, who ... Read more »

Dan Biggar to captain injury-hit Wales in Six Nations

© PA Wire Head coach Wayne Pivac has named three uncapped players in 36-man group – PA Wire Northampton fly-half Dan Biggar has been named as Wales captain for this ... Read more »

Raising awareness about disability amid pandemic

First-year Melissa Shang helped form group on campus, pushes for education, representation, accessibility Read more »

Top Democrat says Capitol riot hearings are going to be like Watergate

A member of the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection says to expect daily, Watergate-style hearings of the panel that will be public for all Americans to see throughout ... Read more »

Poll numbers are pointing to a midterm shellacking for Democrats

WASHINGTON — If it’s Tuesday … Senate Democrats are set to embark on their doomed voting rights push. … President Biden is plotting a communications reset. … Gov. Kathy Hochul ... Read more »

The Repair Shop's Jay Blades describes learning to read aged 51: ‘Like having a book of ants'

The Repair Shop star Jay Blades has opened up learning to read at the age of 51. The TV presenter and furniture restorer struggled with reading as a child and ... Read more »

Rishi Sunak ends interview abruptly when repeatedly asked about partygate

© Sky News Chancellor Rishi Sunak – Sky News Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he believed Boris Johnson’s explanation over a drinks event in the Downing Street garden – but abruptly ended an ... Read more »

This Home For Rent In Batangas Sits High On A Mountain, Has Room With Private Pool

It’s no secret that every family has developed a strong desire to travel after spending most of our holidays at home. However, vacation plans are being hampered by the recent ... Read more »

Covid live news: Italy reports 228,179 new cases; UK reports highest death tally in 11 months

LIVE – Updated at 18:28 Italy’s cases jump from 83,403 cases a day earlier; UK reports 94,432 new cases and 438 further Covid-linked deaths. France reports record 464,769 daily cases ... Read more »

Joss Whedon says Gal Gadot allegations were ‘misunderstanding' as ‘English is not her first language'

Joss Whedon has called Gal Gadot’s allegations against him a “misunderstanding” as “English is not her first language”. The Wonder Woman star worked with Whedon when he replaced Zack Snyder ... Read more »

Arsenal news: Sead Kolasinac completes free transfer to Marseille after mutual contract termination

© Arsenal FC via Getty Images Sead Kolasinac jan 22 Arsenal have announced the departure of Sead Kolasinac after mutually terminating the defender’s contract. The Bosnian has completed a free ... Read more »

London could shake up road charges in bid to reduce car emissions

© AFP via Getty Images London’s mayor estimates traffic fumes account for 25 per cent of city’s carbon dioxide emissions – AFP via Getty Images London could revamp its road ... Read more »

Russia increases number of troops positioned near Ukraine border as fears grow of invasion

© MINISTRY OF DEFENCE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS-RUSSIA-MILITARY-DRILL Russia has increased the number of troops positioned near its border with Ukraine amid mounting fears that it could launch an invasion. The ... Read more »

No fine can reflect pain of losing our son, say family of nursery death boy

© PA Archive Bright Horizons Nursery of Corstorphine admitted failings under health and safety laws at Edinburgh Sheriff Court (Jane Barlow/PA) The family of a boy who choked on a ... Read more »

Police force not compliant with first aid training guidelines at time of bombing

Greater Manchester Police was not providing the recommended hours of first aid training at the time of the Manchester Arena attack, the inquiry into the bombing has heard. On Tuesday, ... Read more »

Newspaper says biggest fashion trend for men in 2022 will be dressing like a child

© Getty Images GettyImages-1202422308.jpg The biggest trend in men’s fashion this year will be dressing like a child, The Wall Street Journal has declared. Men’s fashion editor, Jacob Gallagher, says ... Read more »

Scientists discover ‘surprising' cause of Europe's little ice age in late medieval era

© Getty 19th century drawing of a ‘Frost Fair’ on the frozen River Thames in London – Getty Following an era known as the medieval warm period, temperatures in Europe ... Read more »

Ultra Rare Ferrari Enzo Crashes Into Tree In The Netherlands

© Ferrari Enzo Crash Nobody was injured, but the car is seriously damaged. Seeing a supercar in distress is never a pleasant sight for enthusiasts, but when it’s something ... Read more »

'You can't make this up', 'Well well well…' - Many LFC fans rage as 'mad' fixture claim emerges

© Provided by Transfer Tavern Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp A number of Liverpool supporters were fuming after it was claimed that the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg clash away to ... Read more »

UK approach to Covid favoured elderly and harmed the young, says leading paediatric expert

© Getty Images coronavirus The UK’s approach to tackling Covid-19 was weighted in favour of the elderly and has harmed children as a result, a leading paediatric expert has said. ... Read more »

BREAKING: Everton name Duncan Ferguson as caretaker boss after sacking Rafa Benitez

Everton have named Duncan Ferguson as caretaker boss following the sacking of Rafa Benitez. The Toffees legend previously did a similar role at Goodison Park and will again step in ... Read more »

Omicron Could Get Us Out of the COVID Pandemic — Here's How

© Provided by People Getty COVID-19 testing The highly contagious omicron variant is currently ravaging its way through the U.S. and around the world, infecting millions of people a day ... Read more »

Omicron surge across the globe sparks fears health systems will be overwhelmed

While South Africa is at the tail-end of its Omicron wave, many countries across the world have yet to reach a peak in their surges. © Copyright (c) Daily Maverick ... Read more »

From a blocked nose to a ‘headache from hell': The many symptoms of coronavirus

At this stage of the pandemic, many South Africans have already caught Covid-19 once, if not two or three times. Despite this, there is little consistency when it comes to ... Read more »

OPINION - Talking Point: What do you think about the proposed new daily charge for cars in London?

© PA Archive Transport in London (PA Archive) – PA Archive The news that the London mayor is considering imposing a levy on drivers in London of up to £2 ... Read more »

Katy Perry reveals Orlando Bloom's ‘disgusting' bathroom habit and people are appalled

© Getty Images for Variety Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom – Getty Images for Variety Celebrities: they’re just like us. That includes having bad habits. Some may bite their nails, ... Read more »

Covid guidance said people should ‘minimise' workplace gatherings

Lockdown rules when Boris Johnson attended the drinks do in the No 10 garden barred people from leaving their homes without “reasonable excuse” while official guidance said they should “minimise” ... Read more »

'Still working' - Fabrizio Romano offers potential Wolves transfer boost with 12-word update

© Provided by Transfer Tavern Wolves’ Matt Doherty celebrates Wolves have been boosted in their quest to re-sign Matt Doherty this month, with journalist Fabrizio Romano claiming that Tottenham want ... Read more »

Wayne Pivac hails Wales' Six Nations captain Dan Biggar's ‘wealth of experience'

© PA Archive Wales fly-half Dan Biggar (David Davies/PA) – PA Archive Head coach Wayne Pivac believes that Dan Biggar’s “wealth of experience” will be a key ingredient when he ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic