Cory Garabedian Healing, Thanks to Friends, Supporters


Cory Garabedian, center, is flanked by good friends Shant Janesian, left, and Ara Vartanian, as he leaves Rhode Island Hospital where he spent the past 49 days recovering from injuries suffered in a horrific automobile accident December 24.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Seven weeks after losing a leg in a near-fatal auto accident Christmas Eve, Cory Garabedian walked out of Rhode Island Hospital.

With stark memories of that horrific mishap still swirling in his head, the 23-year-old seems determined to put the past behind him.

Plans to enroll in Dean College and play quarterback on the football team are being put on hold, as are a lot of other things on Garabedian’s personal agenda. For now, therapy remains the top priority and learning to walk all over again with an artificial leg.

“If I master the prosthetic, then maybe I’ll try and get involved with sports again, even if it’s on the coaching side,” he said. “If I should coach, it will be with the AYF, church or some other Armenian sports team. I’d like to give back what the Armenian community gave me growing up.”

Words from Garabedian’s Facebook page as he left the hospital are bound to uplift friends: “Today is the day when my hospital nightmare ends. I’m going home and never looking back. To everyone, just take life day by day because you never know when it’s going to be your last.”

According to Garabedian’s physicians, he may never have survived such an ordeal had it not been for his strong physical condition and uncompromising faith.

His liver, elbow, leg and lungs all incurred injuries. He was on a respirator and feeding tube for weeks.

“Much of my recovery had to do with the military and the discipline of how to deal with adversity,” he said.

Although basketball and track were his forte, the star athlete was named Most Valuable Player in a Division 4 Super Bowl for his high school football team before all his AYF and ACYOA friends who showed up with their tricolors to cheer him on.

Garabedian often thought of those halcyon days while recuperating at the hospital. The fact he was seldom without visitors, whether it was his peers or clergy from different churches, made the recovery process more tolerable.

“When I awoke from a coma, I had no idea what had happened to me or where I was,” he said. “After gaining consciousness, only then did I realize that part of my right leg was missing. I immediately looked down and couldn’t believe the limb was missing.”

Garabedian said he watched movies and read about people missing body parts, never thinking he would be victimized.

“Some nights, I’d lay there in tears thinking my life was over,” he said. “After being discharged, I definitely have some huge adjustments to make like negotiating a shower or a car, even my own bedroom.”

Garabedian credited his mom (Leslie) and younger brother (Humberto) for their ongoing motivation to heal, along with their constant surveillance. The adjustments were slow and agonizing at times.

He whiled away the hours watching television when guests were not present. Garabedian’s mom and AYF coach/advisor Steve Elmasian never missed a day, often joined by his aunt Kristen Garabedian and grandmother Frances Garabedian.

“My aunt from Minnesota [Janine Garabedian] heard what happened and flew out immediately to spend a week with me in ICU,” Garabedian said. “Throughout my hospital stay, I had a great support system that reached out extensively.”

Meanwhile, funds continue to trickle in for Garabedian’s medical expenses, adding to the $6,000 raised at the Providence “Varantian” Ball. Other events have also taken place throughout the community as Armenians have rallied around this young man.

(Those interested in helping can contribute to: Friends of Cory, c/o Sovereign Bank, attn. Ryan Purcell, 184 Taunton Ave., East Providence, RI 02914.)

A fundraiser on his behalf is planned for March 1, at Ladder 133, located at 133 Douglas Ave. in Providence, a block from where his grandfather grew up inside the old Armenian neighborhood.

“Cory came out of his coma and hasn’t looked back,” Elmasian noted. “He has to deal with the loss of a leg but is focusing on the fact he’s still alive and thankful to God for that. He told me to look around and see others who needed more help than himself. That says it all.”