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From the Sports Desk: Injured Hahn inspires

June 23, 2011|By Steve Virgen | steve.virgen@latimes.com

Wednesday night's All-Star Lowsman Banquet offered plenty of laughs, but there was a serious moment before the dinner began.

In the VIP room at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa, a 19-year-old entered in a wheelchair to mingle with the Hall of Famers, pro athletes, businessmen and Mr. Irrelevant. Cory Hahn called it a big honor to be at the event and to represent Goodwill, and its fitness center in Orange County.

Irrelevant Week's motto has been to do something nice for someone for no reason. It's the cornerstone thought for the weeklong celebration of the last pick of the NFL Draft. During the past 36 years, Irrelevant Week has also raised money for charity. This year its focus is on Goodwill.

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In the VIP room there were several men who have achieved great feats in sports. Hahn always wanted to inspire others with the way he played baseball, he said. He played the game with a lot of hustle and a lot of heart while at Mater Dei High. At Arizona State, he suffered a severe neck injury when sliding into second base during a game in February.

Hahn says he now inspires different people in a different light.

"This has been a tremendous opportunity from a bad experience," Hahn said. "Seeing that I can inspire people in this way has been phenomenal."

Hahn did about three interviews before the dinner and never looked bummed about it. He talked about his life and how much it has changed.

"Overall my attitude has been very well," Hahn said. "It's been a crazy couple of months, that's for sure.

"I kind of look at it like baseball. In baseball, you always have to keep a positive attitude because there are some good days and some bad days. I just have to stay positive. If you keep that positive attitude you're going to get better and better. Plus, I have had great support. My family and my friends have really helped."

Most of Hahn's days are spent rehabbing. He moved back to California and is staying with his parents in Corona, he said. He spends at least five days a week rehabbing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"It's like a job, but it's getting me better and I'll do whatever it takes to get better," Hahn said.

Hahn served as a reminder of where some of the money from Irrelevant Week goes. But he was also there to have fun. He was thrilled to shake hands with Cheta Ozougwu, Mr. Irrelevant XXXVI. And he was happy to take in the laughs along with everyone else at the dinner.

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