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Football fundraiser held for ex-Clarkstown South QB Tommy McGuire

He remembers the first year. Bundled in blankets. Maybe as many as 15 blankets.

Still, he could only tolerate the cold for about 10 minutes. 

It had been only five months since everything had changed.

But the one thing — maybe the only thing — that hadn’t changed was evident as Tommy McGuire looked out at the field where several years earlier he’d been calling signals and looking to hit his buddies with end-zone passes.

McGuire was now in a wheelchair but those same buddies — some of whom visited him every day the weeks he was in Westchester Medical Center and the more than four months that followed at Helen Hayes Rehabilitation Hospital — were back out on the field.

The goal was no longer moving up in league standings or winning a rivalry game but playing to raise money for McGuire. They were no longer Clarkstown South Viking football players but post-college guys playing football for a forever friend.

Everything had changed, save for friendship and family. 

That was 2016.

This Saturday, McGuire, who was paralyzed below the neck with a C3 spinal fracture suffered diving into a pool, will again look out on the field from his wheelchair. But, his condition improved, he won’t require layer upon layer of blankets as he did two years ago.

Last year’s fundraising game was scrapped due to COVID, but he expects to watch every game played in the four-hour tournament, held on his old high school football field. 

Former Clarkstown South quarterback Tommy McGuire wears his Cam Newton Carolina Panthers jersey in front of a photo of the NFL quarterback.

The annual Tommy’s Turkey Bowl flag football tournament has raised close to $100,000.

That money has financed things like a wheelchair-accessible van and a wheelchair that puts McGuire in a standing position for at-home therapy to help with things like blood circulation, blood pressure and muscle tone. 

This year, McGuire has asked that revenue from the 24-team, single-elimination tournament be divided. Some will go to him for technology allowing him to dictate words to a computer, erasing the need for an aide to type his dictated work. 

And much will go to the New Jersey-based Push to Walk physical-therapy clinic, where McGuire receives twice-weekly, out-patient therapy that includes using a device that allows him to be upright and to walk with assistance.

Tommy McGuire uses specialized equipment to stand and walk with assistance at Push to Walk in New Jersey.

McGuire, who initially was on a ventilator, unable to breathe on his own, also is put through strength exercises to bolster use of his arms and allow him to sit up for periods of time using his own muscles. 

He has better use of his arms now than his hands. To play PlayStation, for instance, he must rely on a device that has him puff and sip through a straw to make moves. 

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Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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