, Newburyport, MA

June 28, 2013

Paying it forward

Paralyzed Amesbury native to present scholarship at 5K benefit

By Jim Sullivan

---- — Ever since he was paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident in December 2010, Amesbury native Nate Bibaud has come to know the kindness of his fellow man very well.

After numerous benefits and fundraisers in his name, Bibaud is making sure he’s giving something back.

“It’s pretty solid to be able to help somebody else,” Bibaud said. “So many people in the area have gone out of their way to help me, and it’s just nice to be able to help someone else out in return.”

At Sunday morning’s Nate Bibaud 5K Race 4 Rehab & Recovery, the architectural engineering graduate will present a $2,000 art and design scholarship to 2013 Triton Regional High School graduate Rebecca Warner.

“I was so shocked when I got it,” said Warner, who will study photography and visual design at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in the fall. “When I was applying for it, the application said that it was for five school districts, so I thought I probably wouldn’t get it. But it would be a huge opportunity if I did get it. ... I almost started crying when I got the phone call.”

Warner, who harbors dreams of being a photographer and owning her own business, said $2,000 “is way more than enough.”

“I’m so appreciative of this,” Warner said. “I would’ve been happy with just $100.”

“I think it’s great to be able to help somebody else out and to give them confidence, going into school,” Bibaud said. “It’s a little extra bump to have with you as you enter school.”

This weekend’s race, which starts at 10 a.m. at Greater Boston Running Co. in downtown Newburyport, will also assist Bibaud with his rehabilitation not covered by insurance.

Bibaud, who lives in Newton, N.H., has seen great progress in his recovery and has begun producing artwork of his own again, including pen and ink drawings and canvas paintings.

Doing physical therapy four times a week, Bibaud has regained a lot of core strength. Although he still cannot feel anything below his chest, he has been combining his drawings with digital art and then using Photoshop to color and paint.

“When I first got out of the hospital, I had an occupational therapist,” Bibaud said. “And we would sit and draw together. She would hold my arm next to me, and I would do the movement. But I didn’t like the idea of someone sitting next to me and holding my arm. That made me uncomfortable, so I didn’t touch it for a while.

“And then, one day, I decided to give drawing a try without someone.”

Bibaud makes use of a wrist splint that is usually used for eating, but instead of inserting a fork, he puts in a pen or the occasional paintbrush.

“When I was told I would no longer be able to move my hands and everything,” Bibaud said, “I thought, ‘OK, I can’t be able to do anything I used to.’ And, just being able to have something like this to fall back on, I can still be productive and make my artwork. That means a lot to me.”

Some of Bibaud’s recent artwork is on display at the Jon P. Mooers Artists Gallery in downtown Amesbury and John Farley Clothiers in downtown Newburyport.

If you go

What: The Nate Bibaud 5K

When: Sunday, 10 a.m.

Where: Greater Boston Running Co., 27 Water St., Newburyport

How: Online registration is closed, but you can still sign up on the day of the race for $30.

More information: