Now that he has regained the gift of music, Ryan Nelson wants to use his talent to help others.
The 21-year-old Pilesgrove resident, who was paralyzed in a car accident three years ago, will be playing with his band Thursday at Rowan University for the Adam Taliaferro Foundation All Star Football Classic.
Proceeds will go toward athletes with spinal injuries.
Nelson, a quadriplegic, remembers going through months of therapy and not being angry about losing the use of his legs and some of the use of his arms.
Rather, he was upset he couldn’t play guitar.
However, after two years, he learned how to play slide guitar a method of playing particularly used in blues music.
His band, 61 North, will be providing pre-show and half-time show entertainment on Rowan’s football field Thursday.
“This is important to me specifically because it’s (to benefit) spinal cord injuries of athletes,” Nelson said. “With me having a spinal cord injury, I want to do anything I can to raise money for other people who are going through what I went through.”
The Adam Taliaferro Foundation is named in honor of a Penn State football player who was paralyzed from a football injury, but was able to recovery. It raises money to support those injured, as well as funding for research and prevention.
“That’s definitely one of my main goals and main motivations,” Nelson said. “I remember how I felt. I was pretty hopeless.”
Nelson is hoping to meet Taliaferro at the event.
He met the football star’s father when he was in the hospital, and said his story of recovery helped him through his own struggles so he is excited to be able to give back to them.
“As far as I knew, once you were paralyzed, you couldn’t do anything,” Nelson said. “His dad took the time to come and give me some positive words. He was telling me If my son can do it, you can do it.'”
61 North, influenced by rock, jazz and funk, got involved with the benefit through a friend of Nelson’s family, Tom Iacovone, who is also on the board of directors for the foundation.
The gates open for the event at 5:30 p.m. The MC is Andy Kortman and music will also be provided by Wilburn Adams DJs.
The football game begins at 7 p.m. and tickets cost $7.
Nelson said it’s important for people to support the event because the foundation could one day be supporting someone they know.
“It could be you tomorrow,” he said. “It could be your son, your dad, your aunt or uncle.”
Donations can be mailed to The Adam Taliaferro Foundation, P.O. Box 8232, Turnersville, N.J. 08012.
For more information, call 856-582-0212.
By Colleen P. Moore – sjnewsco.com