While on a weekend hunting trip during his junior year of high school, Mac Graff lost his balance and fell about 15 feet out of a tree. This fall broke his back, paralyzing him from the waist down. Despite his uncertainty for how his injuries would impact his future, Mac knew that having a positive mindset would he integral to a successful recovery.
After he was released from the ICU, Mac chose St. Luke’s inpatient spinal cord rehabilitation program as his next step towards recovery. Mac and his family heard great things about the care at St. Luke’s, and he is thankful they followed this advice. He said, “The nurses and therapists were great, they treated me very well. I had a lot of support around me, so that made it really easy for me to move on, and the people at St. Luke’s did a great job of being there for me and pushing me to reach my goals.”
As a three-sport athlete in high school, Mac had the drive to “get going” with therapy as soon as possible so he could return to athletics. His nurses and therapists built off of this energy to help him succeed. Mac explains, “I had the mindset as soon as I got hurt that I wasn’t going to let my injury bring me down. I had some tough times at St. Luke’s, but they did a good job of doing what was best for me and helping me progress.”
“My time at St. Luke’s was pretty much the foundation of where I am at today because they were so supportive and helpful with everything, from the day to day stuff and long-term stuff”, Mac reflects. “St. Luke’s will always have a part of my heart because they’ve just done so much for me; from the doctors, therapists and everybody else there. My experience there was unreal to me. I didn’t know what was going to happen or what my future held. I just knew that the future was going to be positive because of the help I had from my team at St. Luke’s.”
Mac loved his entire St. Luke’s team, and continues to stay in touch with his occupational therapist, Emily, and the Sports and Recreation Program Coordinator, Candice. It is through his continued connections with the St. Luke’s staff that he became involved with the Team St. Luke’s recreational sports program.
Mac’s participation with Team St. Luke’s (TSL) helps him continue his passion for sports. He enjoys going to the TSL wheelchair basketball practices and traveling with the team to compete in tournaments. A golfer as well, Mac enjoys sharing his love for the sport at the annual Tee up for Team St. Luke’s golf tournaments. At this event, he exemplifies how he continues to excel in sports while utilizing his adaptive golf cart to help raise money for Team St. Luke’s.
Mac’s passion for athletics continued as a college student through his involvement with the Gonzaga University men’s basketball team. Gonzaga men’s basketball head coach, Mark Few, a family friend of the Graffs, had members of the team visit Mac while he was at St. Luke’s. Real friendships formed as a few of the players began to come back on their own time to visit. Mac was inspired to continue his education at Gonzaga and further his connection with the Gonzaga men’s basketball team in the role of a student manager.
For other people going through similar journeys, Mac says that keeping a positive outlook on life is instrumental to success. He advises, “You gotta stay positive… You might think you have the worst thing that’s ever happened to you, but there is always someone out there who has it worse. You can’t let something like this bring you down. To live a happy live you have to stay on track and not let negativity get the best of you.”
Mac is thankful for the bright future St. Luke’s has helped him create, stating, “They did such a great job with me and I know they do that for everyone too. It’s a great place – I love St. Luke’s.”
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