Remington advises grads to nurture friendships, community bonds

Community support particularly touched his heart, he said, when he came home from the hospital and rehabilitation center - the streets of his hometown community were lined with blue ribbons expressing residents' concern.

"It was the most touching thing that I have ever experienced," he said, observing the community support has continued through $359,000 in donations to his fundraisers for spinal cord injury research.

Remington said drive and determination were vital in one's life - and it was what kept him alive after the accident and made his recovery possible. He added the graduates should pursue their passion by setting goals and working towards them relentlessly.

"With the right drive and determination, you can accomplish anything in life," he said. "I would not be alive today without it."

Remington spoke of how prior to the logging accident, he had defined himself by his work, and how his paralysis once threatened that major aspect of his life.

But through the support of family and friends, and by observing others facing intense physical challenges with a joyful spirit, he's developed a sense of hope and reoriented his life.

"Always have hope," he said. "Hope will keep you going when all else fails."

Remington urged them to go out into the world and enjoy life.

"It's friendship, determination, drive, hope, and my community that have given me back my life," he said. "And I know these five things will take you far."

Remington's speech was greeted by resounding, lengthy applause.

The speeches of valedictorian Jeff Bennett and salutatorian Laura Fahey also dealt with elements of success. The two students peppered their presentations with humor.

Bennett jested about current events, emerging technologies, and North Warren's modest student population.

Turning serious, he praised the assembled family members, faculty and community residents for their many years of support.

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