REGGIE HAYES: ‘#QWeek’ designed to help Qamari Hassan as he continues recovery

Qamari Hassan works out during a rehabilitation session Wednesday. (Courtesy photo)
Qamari Hassan stopped to talk during a visit to the Saint Francis football office in December. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of news-sentinel.com)
Qamari Hassan walks onto the field Oct. 5 at Bishop D'Arcy Stadium with the help of medical personnel. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of news-sentinel.com)

Qamari Hassan’s rapid recovery from a spinal-cord injury suffered on the football field continues to inspire those who have followed his story. In less than five months, Hassan has gone from being paralyzed from the neck down to walking, lifting weights and driving a car.

And, yet, he’s driven for even more speed.

“I know it’s moving fast,” Hassan said. “The only thing about it is, since it’s moving fast, I expect it to move faster. I need this to hurry up. I was walking and stuff within three months, so, ‘OK, I need everything to come back.’ That’s why I work out as much as I do. The more I work, the faster everything is going to come back. I have to keep pushing.”

When Hassan, 18, was injured during an Aug. 25 practice as a freshman football player at the University of Saint Francis, his life took a drastic turn, to say the least. He couldn’t move his body and he and his mother, Jhalaniy, had to decide whether he should undergo surgery, considering significant risks. They decided on surgery, which was successful. Qamari’s determination, attitude and approach since that day can’t be highlighted enough.

He plans to return to Saint Francis next fall, possibly changing his major from business marketing to physical therapy. He also wants to use his experience to work in motivational speaking, and has started developing a non-profit foundation.

“I’ve seen a lot of things I could do with physical therapy,” he said. “That’s an option I’m leaning toward right now.”

RELATED STORY: A walk to remember: Injured Saint Francis player Qamari Hassan visits team

Hassan’s future comes with a significant financial challenge. To that end, Jhalaniy Hassan, is organizing “#QWeek,” a Feb. 11-17 fundraiser to help with his medical and educational expenses, as well as his goals for giving back to the community. Rehabilitation expenses paid through medical insurance will soon no longer be covered in that manner, Jhalaniy Hassan said.

Jhalaniy Hassan hopes #QWeek will include many businesses making a contribution to Qamari’s financial needs and toward a community event. #QWeek will end with a community event Feb. 16, sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club, at First Baptist Church, 2323 Fairfield Ave. The event will feature two guest speakers and Qamari Hassan will share the story of his life so far.

Hassan, a Wayne High School alum, has already set up a regular speaking engagement to a class of one of his favorite teachers, Jeff Roberts at New Tech Academy at Wayne. Hassan will talk about his health experience, but also other topics of life after high school.

“Anybody I can help, I will,” Hassan said.

Hassan’s drive to return to full health has been admirable, but it’s far from over. He weighed between 175 and 180 pounds before his injury and is about 30 pounds less than that now, after having been even lighter in the weeks after the injury.

His fine motor skills, particularly with his fingers, still have yet to fully return. For example, he can type on a keyboard but the strength in his hands and fingers are not 100 percent, so it is a slow, challenging process. “I can type, but it takes me longer than it would someone else,” he said.

Hassan’s regular workout regimen includes bench press, curls, ladder drills – all the aspects of a typical athletic workout.

He doesn’t slow down when he’s not at the gym, however.

“I’m always doing little stuff to help me,” Hassan said. “I’ll take a peanut butter jar and work on twisting (the lid), building my arm strength, getting my hands back to normal. I do push-ups every day, squats. I try to build my body up other ways if I’m not at the gym.”

Hassan said his body is slowly getting its definition and muscle tone back. His football career ended with the injury. His athletic drive did not.

“My endurance is low. I get tired quickly,” he said. “But even then I try to push through it until I can’t go anymore. Everything is working itself out.”

#QWeek will be a celebration of Hassan’s recovery, and a chance for the community to respond and lend a hand as he keeps pushing forward.

He’s a young man worth investing in.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at rhayes@news-sentinel.com.

HOW TO CONTRIBUTE

If you would like to be involved or contribute to “#QWeek”:

* Contact Jhalaniy Hassan at Jhalaniyh@gmail.com

* Visit https://www.gofundme.com/Doit4Q

* Visit https://www.youcaring.com/Doit4QWeek

* Visit www.facebook.com/Doit4Q

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