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Joseph Defied the Odds After His SCI to Walk Again

by Jessica January 24 2018 06:17
joseph stokes 180 medical scholarship recipients 2017

Earlier this year, we were proud to announce the seven 2017 180 Medical College Scholarship recipients. All of this year's recipients are so inspiring, and we're excited to let you know more about these bright students and their career goals.

Previously, we've introduced you to three of our seven recipients: MeghaFrank, and Chelsea. Today, get to know Joseph! 


joseph stokes 2017 scholarship


"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. 

stokes and football teamJoseph 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 when he was involved in a car accident on the way to school that resulted in an incomplete T-12 spinal cord injury.

He was rushed into surgery as soon as possible, during which two rods and eight screws were placed in his back. After the surgery, the doctors came out to let his parents know that the surgery was a success, but that Joseph would never walk again. 


A Special Visitor Helps to Inspire

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.


joseph stokes senior pic scholarship recipient

Although he didn't stop going to games to support his teammates, it was an incredibly hard change to be off the field and on the sidelines rather than being in the middle of the action as a wide receiver. Joseph said, "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.

180 medical scholarship program for ostomy sci spina bifida

About the Author:

Jessica has worked for 180 Medical for 8 years and is the Purchasing & Marketing Coordinator. Her favorite things about 180 Medical are her great co-workers and getting to work for a company that truly cares both for its employees and its customers.