Nick Bowen Springer, a prominent athlete in paralympic sports and the son of “Jaws 2” actor and publicist Gary Springer, has died. He was 35.
Springer died April 14. He was a two-time Paralympic medalist who competed in the 2008 games in Beijing and 2012 edition in London. He was well-known in the world of wheelchair rugby, a sector of athletics documented in the 2005 documentary “Murderball.”
Gary Springer worked as an actor in the 1970s and ’80s — he had roles in such pics as 1974’s “Dog Day Afternoon” and TV guest shots on “Happy Days” and “MASH” — and then segued into film and theater publicity.
Nick Springer’s life changed at the age of 14 when he contracted meningococcal meningitis. Springer had been enjoy outdoor pursuits at a summer camp in Massachusetts when he was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with the deadly bacterial disease.
The teenager who once dreamed of playing hockey for the New York Rangers was forced to have both legs amputated at the knee and both forearms amputated at mid-arm. But as he found his way in wheelchair sports, first with sled hockey and then rugby, Springer became a sought-after motivational speaker. He was known for telling crowds that despite his disabilities he lived the life of a normal young man “who just happens to be missing a few parts.”
In 2010, Nick Springer graduated from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. He’d spent the past few years working as a consultant to pharmaceutical firms Novartis and GSK. He was a vocal advocate for meningitis vaccination, traveling around the U.S. and beyond. He was also a spokesman for the National Meningitis Association. That organization was founded by his late mother, Nancy Springer.
In addition to his father, Springer’s survivors include a sister and a nephew. The family requests that donations be made in Springer’s name to Wheelchair Sports Federation in Middle Village, N.Y.