​Grace and Grit

Posted by M.B. Paradise in Daily Dose on November 04, 2022 # News, Team LeGrand

beach santaI just released a Children’s book, and it is all because of Eric. This story begins about 12 years ago, when my kids were little. We were at the beach, and they were looking for shells right near the water's edge…they couldn’t find any and were very vocal about it. An elderly gentleman with a white beard was fishing…he overheard them, reached into his deep jacket pockets, and then tossed some beautiful shiny shells onto the sand. He said, “Hey, you forgot these!” My kids turned and saw the tiny colorful conch shells. Then they ran to me and said...” That guy is like a beach Santa.” I scribbled the initial idea on some notecards, and it sat in my drawer for about ten years.

I’m familiar with Eric and his story because I’m a sports nerd and live in Jersey. It was big news when Eric sustained a SCI (spinal cord injury) 12 years ago. Not long after his injury, I heard him give an inspirational talk. I was blown away by his determination and courage. Being an ex-athlete and certified athletic trainer, I know that an athlete’s identity is strongly tied with their sport. Injuries can be devastating both physically AND mentally. This is exactly what makes Eric’s story even more extraordinary to me.

graphic from book

Fast forward to 2020…as the pandemic wore on, our family was doing their best (like everyone else) to cope and adapt. Just before the shutdown, In February 2020, I quit my job to take another position and then BAM…there was a hiring freeze. No job. And I was now in a funk of my own. (For the record, I wasn’t solely focused on myself, I felt for everyone, especially all the healthcare workers out there).

In any event, I was struggling to stay “up” for my family. Then, one morning I saw that Eric was opening a coffee shop. “Really? In the middle of a pandemic?” That was the moment. I had to do something. I had to finish this book. So, I gathered my notecards that were still comfortably sitting in my drawer, and it began. I vowed right then that when I finished my book, I’d donate 25% of the profits to Team LeGrand.

Eric LeGrand Coffee

In closing, I would also like to share that I had a cousin, Becky, a self-proclaimed “Texas chick” who was born with spina bifida and was paralyzed from the waist down. She was a badass cross-stitcher and my pen pal for 25 years. She had many challenges, but she lived an amazing life, largely because of the love and care of my aunt. So, I’d like to give a shout-out to all those amazing caregivers out there, like my Aunt Honey and Karen LeGrand. “Hero-status” for sure!

M.B. Paradise has always been a fan of stories, Santa, and the beach… so combining the three made perfect sense. She got her undergraduate degree at Rutgers University and a Master’s in Education at the University of Virginia. In high school, she started a painting business and later went onto become an athletic trainer and a college instructor. She has climbed in the Rockies, barely survived two NYC marathons, and currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and three daughters.She likes chocolate, treehouses, comfy pajamas, and all kinds of fun stories. Beach Santa is her first children’s book.

Website: www.mbparadiseauthor.com


Link to purchase here.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.