The man who we covered in previous posts who now lives with complete paralysis has shed a lot of tears over the last two and half decades. Ever since he was diagnosed with paralysis after his tragic football accident with his teammate, he has tried to come to grips with his life, both the way it was before the spinal cord injury and how it has changed since he has become a quadriplegic.
And what saved his life with paralysis from turning completely dark? Hope.
In his teenage years, this young man was a reckless youth, often getting into trouble around town and finding a battlefield at home with his parents.
There are “certain things that would have put me in jail for years,” he admits. “Miami, the 80’s … having a good time … my parents know I was experimenting at the time, not only with partying but with different groups of people, some nefarious. Put it this way: many nights I was at home awake, looking out the front window waiting for either a car I didn’t know or the police.”
All those things weighed heavily on his mind the first few years after his spinal cord was damaged, making him think that perhaps this was retribution for his past ways. The pain and suffering did not solely exist in this man’s back, and he was tired of the emotional trauma he constantly found himself submerged in. So he decided to do what he had done best in life before the accident: fight back.
He reconnected with his teammate — the man who he hit on the field, but who somehow ended up almost avoiding spinal cord injuries all together — and found forgiveness in the man who changed his life forever. He decided to help his teammate– along with himself — by giving him a place to stay and funded his culinary art school education so he could open up his own restaurant. He also reached out to the other man who had likewise been paralyzed but recovered from the same teammate — a man he had never before met — who had experienced almost the same paralysis injuries as himself. Now the three men are friends, bound by spinal cord injuries from their pigskin days.
Since he was a student at The Citadel college at the time of his injury, he never got to graduate from the world of higher education with a degree. He nevertheless went back to school in Miami and came out in 1993 holding a degree in psychology with a specialization in post traumatic depression. To top it all off, the former rebel without a cause was put on the dean’s list more than once during his studies.
The man who we have discussed throughout our blog posts took all of this education and made the choice to dedicate his life to finding a cure for paralysis. Even though his outlook for recovery is decidedly bleak, he now sees himself far from hopeless. He took over the Miami Project — an organization that had been working with paralysis treatment for over 23 years — and became the president of the organization. Since setting up a fun in 1999, a man who’s life everyone thought was over has raised over $300 million for research into new ways of diagnosing paralysis and treating it, such as stem cell research.
“The chair made me grow a conscience. I never had one before,” he says.
And as for his past, including the years of self hatred and loathing over his condition post-spinal cord injury? He’s past that. The way he sees it, he’s going to be around for a long time and if he can beat paralysis, then he is invincible.
If you or a loved one have suffering a spinal cord injury, we urge you to contact our bilingual offices as soon as possible following the accident at 1-858-551-2090 or please click here for a free consultation with an experienced paralysis attorney. We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not pay anything until we recover money on your behalf.
This is the final part of a five part story.