Meet Champion in the Community Fred Duling

TONIGHT is our annual Night of Champions fundraiser! The Night of Champions is an annual fundraiser that raises money for Magee’s patient and community programs, such aart therapy, wheelchair sports, horticultural therapy, our Facility Dog Program and much more. It’s an evening full of rubbing elbows with local sports celebrities, live entertainment, dinner, auctions, raffles, wheelchair sports demos and a whole lot of fun.

But the real reason it is called the Night of Champions is because we also honor champions in our community. These are people who have done great things for Magee and the people of the Philadelphia area. This year’s honorees are BAYADA Home Health Care and Fred Duling. Today, we’re going to introduce you to the incomparable Fred Duling.

Who is Fred?

“Prior to his accident, Fred was an elite rower. As a young man, he competed at the top levels of his sport, three times representing the US national team in world class competition.  He remained actively engaged in the rowing community, competing in masters events and serving as a mentor and coach to many rowers in the Philadelphia area, including his son, Fred Jr., who also competed in the World Championships.  Fred never thought he would be back in a boat on the Schuylkill River, but last Christmas, his friends and family surprised him with an adaptive rowing shell. In this photo, he is back on the water with his son Fred for his first post injury row!” Fred was a patient at Magee from January through July 2011 for rehabilitation for a spinal cord injury. He fractured his spine in a fall at the C1, C2, C6 and C7 vertebrae. He is completely paralyzed below his upper chest, but did retain use of his hands.

Fred with his son Fred, Jr. on his first post-injury row!

Fred Duling came to Magee as a patient after he incurred a spinal cord injury during a fall at the Malta Boat Club on Philadelphia’s Boathouse Row in 2010. Prior to his accident, Fred was an elite rower. As a young man, he competed at the top levels of his sport, three times representing the US national team in world class competition. He remained actively engaged in the rowing community, competing in masters events and serving as a mentor and coach to many rowers in the Philadelphia area, including his son, Fred Jr., who also competed in the World Championships.

After his injury, Fred never thought he would be back in a boat on the Schuylkill River. But around Christmas 2012, just two years after his injury, his family surprised him with an adaptive rowing shell. Now, he’s back to doing what he loves.

What makes him a Champion in the Community?

Fred truly exemplifies Magee’s motto of believing in a way back. And it’s not just his perseverance and strength that make him a champion — it’s also his dedication to giving back to other patients and people living with disabilities. Not only does Fred serve on Magee’s Patient Advisory Committee, but he also volunteers for the Walk It Out Committee to raise funds for Magee’s Locomotor Training Program. He is also actively involved in Magee’s Peer Mentor Program, meeting with newly injured patients to share his experiences, answer questions and show them that there is life after injury — and that it’s pretty great. 

We are very proud to offer Fred one of this year’s Champion in the Community Awards! We hope you’ll join us at the Night of Champions TONIGHT at Penns Landing Caterers in South Philadelphia. Click here for more info!

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