Earlier this year, we proudly announced the seven 2017 180 Medical College Scholarship recipients. We’re excited to let you know more about these bright students and their career goals. We already introduced you to three of our seven recipients: Megha, Frank, and Chelsea. Today, get to know Joseph, who defied the odds to walk again after his spinal cord injury.
“Your Son Will Never Walk Again.”
For Joseph Stokes, life has been all about sports and physical activity since as early as he can remember. He started playing t-ball at age four, and soon after that, he got into baseball and football. By high school, he was playing as a wide receiver.
Joseph was a regular fixture at every game, and he never missed a chance to be on the playing field. In the meantime, he worked hard to maintain his grades in the hope that one day he would play for a college football team when he graduated in 2017.
But in November of 2015, Joseph’s life changed forever. He got in a car accident on the way to school, which resulted in an incomplete T-12 spinal cord injury.
Doctors rushed him into surgery, where they placed two rods and eight screws in his back. After the surgery, they let Joseph’s parents know that the surgery was a success. However, the doctors had a dire prognosis: Joseph would never walk again.
A Special Visitor Inspires Joseph
When Joseph finally woke up, hearing his prognosis made him feel like the world was crumbling around him. He was discouraged, and it was hard seeing his loved ones so upset and concerned for him. Still, his friends, family, teammates, and his pastor often came by for visits, even after Joseph moved to the Shepherd Center to start his rehabilitation.
It was incredibly encouraging to know that his entire community had committed to support him and his family, even though he knew that there was a long, hard struggle ahead of him.
Then one day, a spinal cord-injured motivational speaker named Bobby Ryals came to visit Joseph. As Bobby talked with him and demonstrated all he could still do while in a wheelchair, Joseph sat and listened. He watched as Bobby demonstrated the things he could still do in a wheelchair, and he began to grow more and more encouraged.
He began to feel like there was still a plan for him, and that’s when he began to pray for a new path in life.
Turning Adversity into Achievement
Back when he first arrived at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, he was brought in while lying flat on his back on a stretcher. The many weeks of rehab were a struggle, but he maintained his faith and worked hard.
Although he still had to use a wheelchair occasionally, by the time he left the rehabilitation center to go home, he walked out with a cane.
Although he didn’t stop going to games to support his teammates, it was a hard change to be on the sidelines instead of on the field.
“My dreams were shattered, but I knew God had other plans for me.”
He decided he wanted to do everything he could to help others, so he began doing volunteer work with various organizations in and outside of his community. Today, he continues to volunteer, and he has also become a peer mentor to others with spinal cord injuries.
Since then, he has chosen a career path toward Exercise Physiology. Eventually, he hopes to work with Paralympic athletes.
Joseph, we’re inspired by your courage and determination, and we wish you all the best on your journey through college.
About the 180 Medical Scholarship
College isn’t always easy to afford, and we know that there can often be extra financial hardship heaped on students who live with conditions like spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, ostomies (ileostomy, urostomy, and/or colostomy), transverse myelitis, and neurogenic bladder. That’s why 180 Medical established a scholarship program to help those aspiring students work toward achieving their dreams.
We’re accepting applications for the 2018 180 Medical College Scholarship Program now through June 1, 2018! Download an application and get full information at www.180medical.com/scholarships.