West Hartford lawyer, Elton B. Harvey III, coach of the Connecticut Jammers Wheelchair Rugby Club, says the team members are his heroes.
“What they do on a daily basis, just to get through life, is inspirational, but to add to that the drive and desire to overcome life’s obstacles is heartwarming,” Harvey said. “Whenever I think that my life is tough or my struggles are many, I look at what they face and I don’t have a problem in the world.”
Harvey clearly thinks the team is pretty special.
The Connecticut Bar Association thinks Harvey is pretty special too, and earlier this month they presented him with the Citizen of the Law Award during the association’s annual leadership retreat.
The event was held September 13 at Water’s Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook.
Harvey was recognized for his “significant, unselfish, and outstanding service in promoting public health, safety, and the general welfare of our society,” according to the bar association.
Harvey, who now works at Baillie & Hershman PC in West Hartford, owned his own title abstract company and was employed in the title insurance industry before going into private practice in 1988.
Harvey said that the Connecticut Jammers Wheelchair Rugby Club is a team of quadriplegic athletes who compete in the Northeast Region of the United States Quad Rugby Association. They are sponsored by Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford. Players must be able to push a manual wheelchair in the game, which is full contact, and is played on a basketball court using a volley ball.
“The Jammers got started in 1991 and, in 2000, Gaylord reached out to my able-bodied rugby team looking for a coach,” said Harvey, who plays for the Connecticut Grey Rugby Club.
The Jammers play throughout the northeast in New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. They travel to each venue by car, transporting their own rugby chairs, staying in hotels, transferring from their everyday chairs to rugby wheelchairs, he said. “For us, this is easy, for them, a challenge. Several have able-bodied support but many travel on their own. No small feat for a quadriplegic,” Harvey said. “We play from September through February, and are always looking for new players, male and female. No experience necessary and Gaylord provides the chairs. You just provide the motivation.”
Harvey, who teaches as an adjunct faculty member of Manchester Community College and Naugatuck Valley Community College, is also a member of the Connecticut Mortgage Bankers Association and serves on its Closing and Compliance Committee and the Affordable Housing Committee.
He was selected for the Citizen of the Law Award based on nominations submitted to the CBA Awards Committee.
According to the bar association, the recipient must be a judge, attorney, or paralegal member of the CBA who has made a significant contribution to a charitable or public service cause that does not involve professional legal skills, but provides inspiration and contributes to the needy, the good of society, the environment, or our way of life.