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Greenwich Athlete Earns Courage Award After Overcoming Leukemia

Greenwich's Nicole Graham was named the 2014 Chelsea Cohen Courage Winner Photo Credit: Contributed photo
Greenwich's Nicole Graham Named 2014 Chelsea Cohen Courage Winner Photo Credit: Contributed photo

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Former Greenwich High athlete Nicole Graham, who overcame leukemia to return to classes and the playing field, was selected the Chelsea Cohen Courage Award winner by the Fairfield County Sports Commission.

Graham was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago and made a major recovery to enable her to complete her outstanding scholastic and athletic career at Greenwich High this May.

The Fairfield County Sports Commission created the Chelsea Cohen Courage Award in 2006. It is named after Chelsea Cohen, a former Norwalk High soccer star who was the commission’s first Courage Award recipient. She died in 2006 of a rare form of cancer of the nervous system. The award recognizes the person in the sports community who has shown inspirational strength in battling life-altering obstacles.

Graham, who now is a freshman at Dartmouth, was a three-sport standout at Greenwich High in lacrosse as a three-time co-captain, field hockey and indoor track. After undergoing initial chemotherapy treatments, Graham suffered severe complications that forced her to be put into a medically induced coma that led to strokes on both sides of her brain and paralysis. Through her determined effort in rehabilitation, she was able to return to the playing fields this past year.

In 2008, the commission’s Courage Award started a relationship with the Forever Young Foundation, the charitable entity of former Greenwich native and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young. Forever Young's continued support in sponsoring the Courage Award has helped the commission grow its Chelsea Cohen Fitness Academy, the county-wide umbrella it created in 2010 to support its efforts to promote an active, healthy lifestyle for area youth.

Past courage award winners are:

  • 2013: Amy Dixon, blind para-triathlete from Greenwich
  • 2012: Paul Gorham, Sacred Heart University football coach
  • 2011: U.S. Navy SEAL Brian R. Bill, a Stamford native who was killed in action in Afghanistan
  • 2010: Ken Green, Danbury native and pro golfer who lost his leg in a car accident
  • 2009: James Hilaire, a Stamford resident and University of New Haven soccer goalie who suffered a major head injury
  • 2008: Mike Myers-Keitt, a Fairfield Prep and Monmouth University basketball player
  • 2007: John Tartaglio, a para-athlete from Milford who was a Fairfield University student
  • 2006: Jason Maiella, baseball player at Sacred Heart who was the first recipient under Cohen’s name.

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