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Pay It Forward: Be Perfect Foundation

May 23, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Be Perfect Foundation, which helps pay for treatment of spinal cord injuries, was one of seven organizations awarded $7,000 to Pay It Forward.Chris Seibel, who submitted the video nominating the organization, ended up in a wheelchair after being in an ATV accident. Thanks to the Be Perfect Foundation and its extraordinary founder, Hal Hargrave Jr., Seibel was given a chance to walk again. Now he's walking and working out five days a week.

With financial help from the Be Perfect Foundation, Seibel attended physical therapy sessions. He has gone from sitting in a wheelchair to using a walker and then moving on to crutches. He now uses a cane to walk.

"[Hal Hargrave Jr.] has personally made humungous strides in helping people that feel like there's nothing left in life," said Seibel.

At 17 years old, Hargrave was an avid athlete and gym rat set to attend California State University, Long Beach to play baseball. But everything changed on July 26, 2007.

While driving a truck full of equipment for disabled people, Hargrave swerved to avoid a large piece of tire thread on Interstate 15 and lost control. The truck rolled several times before coming to a halt, but he was crushed cab for 40 minutes before being airlifted to a hospital.

Hargrave broke his neck in the crash. Doctors gave him a 1-3 percent chance of walking again.

He began intensive therapy and built friendships with other patients, including Brian O'Neill. He was shocked when one day O'Neill had to drop out of treatment due to financial problems. That's when Hargrave decided to start the Be Perfect Foundation.

"It was then that Hal knew he had to pay it forward," said Hal Hargrave Sr.

Hargrave's goal was to cover the cost of therapy for those that could not afford it.

"Being perfect is about giving everything you have, no matter what it is your doing," said Hargrave.

He found a home for the foundation in his old favorite gym, The Claremont Club, with the help of the club's president and CEO Mike Alpert. The gym took one of its racquetball courts and converted it into a spinal cord injury studio.

After starting with just one client -- Hal Hargrave Jr. -- the foundation grew to 17 clients. But with its growth, the Claremont Club ran out of space. So Hargrave began fundraising to build a new center to continue its work.

"Getting them out of their chair, keeping them in recovery and in therapy, could be the difference of having them re-hospitalized because of secondary complications [and] emotional breakdowns," said Hal Hargrave Sr.

According to the Be Perfect Foundation, lifetime costs for spinal cord injuries can total over $2.5 million per victim and, in most cases, insurance only covers between 50-60 percent of the costs. The Hargraves say the $7,000 from ABC7 could sponsor someone's treatment for close to a year.

Hargrave is now studying communications at the University of La Verne. His dream is to be a TV sportscaster.

"Just wake up with an attitude that you can be perfect and approach your life with a good positive attitude every morning and just wake up and go out and try to achieve those goals that you've set yourself," said Hargrave.

If you would like to contact the Be Perfect Foundation or donate to the organization, go to www.beperfectfoundation.com or call (909) 593-9539.


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