Baseball, Brotherhood and Project 34
Baseball embodies togetherness, summertime, Americana. Rarely is it equated with loss, but that, unfortunately, occurred in Cory Hahn’s universe 12 years ago. While trying to steal a base while playing baseball for Arizona State University in 2010, he collided headfirst with an infielder’s knee, which broke Hahn’s neck instantly.
Hahn, now 29 years old, has lived the last 12 years as a C5 quadriplegic. Despite missing out on a possible career in the Major Leagues, his injury has inspired something great. A roommate and teammate of Hahn’s in college, Trevor Williams, was so profoundly affected by Hahn’s injury that they teamed up to found a spinal cord injury nonprofit to help others with paralysis called Project 34 (Hahn’s number when he played).
With a mission to positively impact the lives of individuals living with a spinal cord injury, Project 34 gives several grants each year for medical supplies, home modifications, mobility equipment, and more. Read to learn more about Project 34 and how it has helped the SCI community since being created 5 years ago below.
Baseball was the center of Hahn’s universe. He was a rising star in the game while in college. He was also Mr. Baseball in 2010 and he had dreams of making it to the Major Leagues. The last thing he would have expected was to break his neck playing the game he loved. After his injury, Hahn spent months at Project Walk in Carlsbad, California for additional rehab. His old roommate Williams would frequently visit during his workout sessions. The two remained close friends. Hahn was focused on getting back to his life but ultimately struggled with his identity since baseball was so integral to his life.
Fortunately, before graduating, Hahn was offered a job with the Arizona Diamondbacks as a scout and analyst. He graduated from the W.P. Carey School of Business in 2014. The Diamondbacks were aware of Hahn’s injury and had followed him through his time at ASU. They drafted him knowing he would not be able to play and did so in the 34th round to honor him. As for Williams, he was drafted to the Major Leagues playing first the Pittsburgh Pirates and now for the Cubs. Williams decided to honor Cory by wearing number 34 after he was drafted. He now wears 32 after moving to the Cubs (another number Cory wore).
In 2017, a few years after college with their careers in full swing, Hahn and Williams had a light bulb moment over a steak dinner. "The idea was born that we wanted to launch a non-profit that was specifically meant to help the spinal cord injury community. Given my journey, I realized first hand how critical it is for a person with a spinal cord injury to have resources available to live and dominate life,” says Hahn. They decided to help the spinal cord injury community by founding the nonprofit, Project 34, to help others with spinal cord injuries.
How Project 34 Helps
Project 34 has been positively impacting the lives of individuals with spinal cord injuries since 2018. They are able to make this desired impact monetarily, ie, by giving grants to those in need. After raising funds for said grants, Project 34 then gives these grants to people with spinal cord injuries throughout the year.
“We help, or try to help, anyone who has suffered a spinal cord injury of any kind,” says Hahn. “We will do our best to help where we can. We cover anything from medical supplies, medical bills, proper equipment such as fitted wheelchairs, standing frames, etc, home modifications, in/outpatient rehab, etc.”
They will also install ramps to help make a home accessible. Additionally, Project 34 will help pay for lifts to assist with transfers into vehicles or for getting out/into a pool, bathtub, or spa."When it comes to what we can or cannot provide for individuals in need, we do not limit ourselves from being able to either purchase and/or help purchase an item that would help an individual improve quality of life."
Project 34 even lets applicants apply more than once for a grant if their need is great. "When it comes to what we can or cannot provide for individuals in need, we do not limit ourselves from being able to either purchase and/or help purchase an item that would help an individual improve quality of life." As for what else makes Project 34 unique, the connection to major league baseball doesn't hurt. "Trevor and I are both extremely lucky to have a lot of close friends who also play Major League Baseball and have the desire to be Project 34 ambassadors." Ambassadors for Project 34 help spread awareness about spinal cord injuries and help raise money.
In addition, Hahn says they keep in touch with grant recipients which is something you don't often see with other non-profits. "So beyond receiving a grant, we allow the individual to remain close to us via support groups. We’re building a strong community of people who share similar experiences so that we can continue the momentum in support of the spinal cord injury community."
The pandemic also forced Hahn and Williams' to get creative when it comes to fundraising to supply these grants. "The pressure from the pandemic also allowed our creative minds to open up and that is how our charity golf classic was created." "This tournament will take place in January 2022 in Phoenix." Through this golf tournament, they are able to raise a significant amount of money for Project 34 grants.
"I also want to give a huge thanks to our board members. If it wasn't for them, Trevor and I would not be able to do what we do. They are Jackie Williams, Tanner Bush, Megan Bush, Kristen Purnell, and Sam Cerbo." To date, Project 34 has donated over $90,000 to dozens of individuals, and applying for a grant is easy. Simply visit this page, https://projectthirtyfour.com/apply-for-support/, fill out the short online form and click to submit.
- Learn more: Project 34 https://projectthirtyfour.com/
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