When faced with adversity would you rise to the occasion, or throw in the towel? A decade ago, one play would change my life forever. In 2006, I had broken my neck playing on my schools freshman football team. That game has still left me paralyzed to this day. I have gone through more things in these past 10 years than most people go through in a lifetime. After just turning 14, my accident transformed me from a young boy to a man overnight. In the beginning it was a struggle to even pick up my hands over my head, but with help from family, friends, and a great team of therapists and doctors, I can now walk for hours at a time using braces with the aid of a walker. I give you this background not seeking pity, but rather the opposite. Flash forward ten years, I am fully independent. I just want to express how much I believe that the only disability in life is just a bad attitude.
Former NBA coach, Rudy Tomjanovich once said, “Don't ever underestimate the heart of a champion” after winning the 1994-1995 championship as underdogs. You can define me as being life’s underdog. I can’t walk on my own, I have limited use of dexterity in my fingers, and am dependent on my power chair, but that doesn’t prevent me from living my life to the fullest. I often refer to my injury as a blessing in disguise. Being able to adapt, innovate, and overcome challenges enabled me to turn a tragedy into a triumph. I’ve established more relationships and have made more of an impact than I would have ever done had I not been injured. The most important piece of advice I can give to someone who is battling what it may be is to maintain a positive outlook. The famous Carnegie Mellon Professor, Randy Pausch said in his last lecture “Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things.” Remember, life’s problems wouldn’t be called hurdles if there wasn’t a way to get over them.
Today, I work at one of the top wheelchair manufacturing companies in the world, Pride Mobility/Quantum Rehab. Working with Quantum has given me an incredible platform that enables me to help others who find themselves in a similar situation I was once in. I am one of the lucky ones being able to love the work I do and enjoy being a shoulder people can lean on in their time of need. I’ve come a long way on this new journey and I have an even longer way to go, but one thing is for sure, I am enjoying every STEP of the way.