MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The mission of the Gaylord Sports Association is improving the lives of people with physical disabilities through adaptive sports and recreation.

Garrett Mendez of Trumbull was just 19 when he suffered a brain stem stroke in 2005. Thanks in part to Gaylord Hospital, there is indeed life after a stroke.

On Monday, the Great River Golf Club in Milford hosted the Gaylord Annual Golf Classic. It is Gaylord’s biggest fundraiser of the year for the sports association.

After weeks in the ICU, Mendez, who played hockey and lacrosse at Notre Dame of Fairfield, was transferred to Gaylord Hospital.

As he likes to say, Gaylord has given him back his life.

“What they did for me, I could never pay them for and I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to give back to them as much as possible,” Mendez said.

Mendez’ family also played a big part in his recovery. News 8 asked Mendez’ father Gary what comes to mind when someone mentions Gaylord Hospital.

“Survival… their ability to give you back your life,” Gary said.

Katie Joly is the program manager of Gaylord Sports Association. She has seen Mendez and many others get their lives back.

“I absolutely love what I do. I get to be a part of people re-finding their passion, re-finding themselves, getting back to the life they want to lead,” Joly said.

Next May, Mendez will graduate from Sacred Heart University with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology.