Current, former All-American football players visit rehabbing patients at Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford

Current, former All-American football players visit rehabbing patients at Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford



WALLINGFORD — Dressed in a Green Bay Packers jersey, clutching a football and beaming with excitement, Carissa Walberg waited along with several other patients at Gaylord Hospital for the arrival of NFL and college football players.

Players from the Walter Camp Football Foundation signed footballs, photos, and offered encouragement to patients recovering from traumatic injuries Friday as part of the organization’s annual weekend.

Taryn Walberg, Carissa’s sister, said she has been receiving care since a horseback riding accident in November. Walberg said Carissa, who is 27, will undergo therapy at Gaylord for another month before moving to outpatient care.

“She didn’t feel good this morning, but when we reminded her that (the players) were coming, it got her out of bed,” Taryn Walberg said.

Katie Zimmerli, Walberg’s occupational therapist, said she is working with her to relearn daily activities.

“We’ve been working on her mobility with her right arm, we’ve been working on her speech a lot,” Zimmerli said.

Friday’s event marked the 13th year that Walter Camp Weekend has made a stop at Gaylord Hospital.

Former NFL running back Blair Thomas, who played for the New York Jets, New England Patriots, and Dallas Cowboys, said he has attended the event for the past three years, in hopes of motivating patients to continue to get better. 

“It’s always good to come back,” Thomas said

Thomas, who has had shoulder replacement surgery and once suffered an ACL injury, said he feels that he can connect with the patients that are going through physical therapy and recovery because of his experience.

“We see people who have gone through some trauma and they’re working to get themselves back to where they once were,” Thomas said.

Louisiana State University safety and first-team All-American Grant Delpit, along with LSU kicker Cole Tracy and Syracuse freshman team All-American Andre Cisco, also attended the event.

Eddie Hernandez, a Meriden resident, said he has been in the hospital for six weeks after suffering a broken leg, crushed ankle and fractured tibia. Hernandez said he is a big football fan and the New York Giants are his favorite team. He was excited when he found out he would get to meet a few professional players.

“It’s my first time being here,” Hernandez said. “I didn’t know that they do things like this. It’s great.”


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