After a 5-year battle with ALS, Graham Harden II, 52, passed away peacefully on Saturday, June 12, 2021 at his home in Terrace Park, OH.
Graham was born on July15, 1968 in Newport News, VA to Holmes and Gail (Elder) Harden and grew up in New Canaan, CT. Graham attended New Canaan High School, Deerfield Academy (class of ’87), UNC-Chapel Hill (class of ’91), and the Kenan-Flagler Business School (class of ’00). He was a multi-sport athlete at New Canaan and Deerfield and an all-American D1 lacrosse standout at UNC. In 1991, Graham co-captained the UNC men’s lacrosse team to a historic 16-0 season and an NCAA championship and won the coveted Schmeisser Cup as the national defenseman of the year.
After years of athletic success as a player and a reputation as a relentless and merciless competitor, Graham found his true life calling back on the field as a highly successful youth and high school boys and girls lacrosse coach at Mariemont High School and the Royals Lacrosse Club. Graham’s gift was the ability to teach his young players about integrity, compassion, sportsmanship, teamwork, and life values through sports. Through his personal struggle with ALS, his endless hours training and volunteering as a local firefighter and first responder, Graham enabled and inspired youth athletes to be more than just a good player…be a good citizen.
In August of 2016, Graham was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Graham quickly decided he was going to tackle ALS with the spirit of a competitor and, along with his legion of supporters, established a movement called GForce to build awareness and effect progress in developing treatments for this currently incurable disease. His motto became “Game On, ALS”.
Graham always had a passionate commitment to family, friends, neighbors, teammates, and youth. His community influence expanded outside Terrace Park to southern Ohio, Connecticut, North Carolina and beyond. He taught us all the importance of being humble and living for others.
Graham is survived by his extraordinary and mutually devoted wife, Dawn (Adler) who he met while at UNC and married in the summer of 1992. He is also survived by his daughters, Kendall and Lindsay; his son, Cole; his mother, Lucy Gail; his brothers, Boyd (and Keri) and Holmes (and Blake); his sister, Shea (and John Naporano); and numerous nieces, nephews, aunts and an uncle. Graham was preceded in death by his father, Holmes.
Plans for an additional celebration of life in Terrace Park, OH and in New Canaan, CT will be posted on https://www.facebook.com/gforcegameonals when details are available.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
(1) Non-tax deductible: Graham Harden II Family Trust (donate at gforcegameon.org or mail check addressed to the Trust to P.O. Box 1411, Los Altos, CA 94023). All proceeds from these donations will be used to pay outstanding ALS medical bills.
(2) Tax deductible: Cincy Royals, a 501c3 non-profit organization (mail check to Cincy Royals, 6675 Wyman Lane, Cincinnati, OH 45243). All proceeds from these donations will be used to establish a boys and girls lacrosse student scholarship at Mariemont High School in Graham’s name.
HI legacy continues…GFORCE GAME ON!!!