“Your son will never walk again.” This is a phrase no one ever expects to hear. But in 2015, a teenage boy named Joseph Stokes would suffer a spinal cord injury that would turn his family’s world upside down. Fortunately for Joseph, this wasn’t the end of his story. It was just the beginning.
Ever since Joseph Stokes could remember, his life was about sports. T-ball came first. He began playing at just 4 years old. Not too long after, he started playing baseball and football. By the time he reached high school, Joseph was becoming a good Wide Receiver.
He was a regular fixture at the games. Whenever his number was called, he would be there, ready to leave it all out on the field. Joseph truly found his love of football. He set his sights on playing college football when he graduated, and he was determined to turn his dream into a reality.
All seemed to be going his way. But that was about to change.
A Spinal Cord Injury Changes Joseph’s Life Forever
On November 2, 2015, Joseph’s day started out like any other routine day. He got ready for weight training and left his house around 7:25 am. While on his way to school, he ran off the road and flipped his truck. Since Joseph didn’t have his seat belt on, he was thrown from the vehicle.
When he came to, he had no feeling or movement below my waist. A CT scan and MRI revealed a spinal cord injury at the T-12 level. Doctors rushed Joseph into surgery, using 2 rods and 8 screws to fuse his spine. After his surgery, the doctors had a dire prognosis: Joseph would never walk again.
When Joseph finally woke up, hearing his prognosis made him feel like the world was crumbling around him.
“My dream was to one day play college football. That dream was gone,” Joseph said.
Faced with this harsh reality, Joseph wasn’t sure what he’d do next. “Thank God my family found a way to get me into The Shepherd’s Center in Atlanta, GA. It was there that the feeling and movement slowly came back, and I slowly learned how to walk again.”
Joseph Finds Inspiration from An Unlikely Person
Joseph, now paralyzed, lay in the hospital feeling uncertain about his future. Luckily, his friends, family, teammates, and his pastor often came by for visits.
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 began to grow more and more encouraged.
After months of rehabilitation and physical therapy, Joseph began to recover. Despite all the challenges before him, Joseph defied the odds and took his first steps. Today, Joseph is able to fully walk without a wheelchair.
Finding Hope In Living with a Spinal Cord Injury
If you find yourself facing a dark situation as you adapt to your spinal cord injury, don’t give up. You can still make a difference and impact lives just like Bobby did for Joseph.
Below are 10 powerful quotes from people living with a spinal cord injury. If you find yourself losing hope, let these quotes be a source of light for you.
“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.”
– Christopher Reeve, Actor and Founder of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
“Never let anyone tell you that you cannot do something just because of your spinal cord injury. It’s sometimes just a matter of figuring out how to do it in a new way. Above all, never give up.”
– Ryan Huntley, 180 Medical Employee
“In life, you have a choice. You can either look back or look forward. I choose to look forward.”
– Ian Malesiewski, 180 Medical 2018 Scholarship Recipient
“Life in a chair isn’t always easy, but I promise that you can get stronger to handle so much of what you’re facing. Keep up the fight!”
– Amberley Snyder, Motivational Speaker
“I want everyone I come across to discover their inner champion, get off the sidelines of life, get in the race, and know that the finish line is within their reach.”
– Tricia Downing, Professional Athlete and Founder of Camp Discovery
“The greater the challenge, the greater the joy in overcoming it. Never let anything or anyone stop you from fulfilling your dreams.”
– Steve Kearley, 180 Medical Patient Advocate
“Take what you are given and make the most of it.”
– James DuBose, 180 Medical Patient Advocate
“You may have to sit down – but never let yourself sit still.”
– Meena Outlaw, 180 Medical Blog Contributor
“Ultimately, life is short. The best thing to do is to experience as much as you can in the time you are here. Despite your spinal cord injury, I believe you are still meant for great things. Believe in yourself too!”
– Mason Ellis, 180 Medical Blog Contributor
“Where you are now is not where you will always be. Just keep on trying, and know that tomorrow really is a new day.”