Meet Steve, 180 Medical Patient Advocate

meet steve 180 medical patient advocate

At 180 Medical, we’re passionate about helping others and changing lives for the better. Steve Kearley is on board for that goal, and that’s why he’s proud to work as one of our Patient Advocates.

We’d love for you to know more about Steve’s life, hobbies, and goals, as well as his important work in helping people of all ages who are new to living with spinal cord injuries (SCI).

Steve Proves That Normal Life is Possible with a Spinal Cord Injury

It was Steve’s senior year of high school in 1988. He was a passenger in a car with a friend, and they were racing another car. Suddenly, their vehicle lost control and flipped into a ditch. His neck was broken, but miraculously, he survived.

At the hospital, he heard from doctors that he would not walk again due to a spinal cord injury (complete C6). As a result of his SCI, he lives with limited feeling and function below his chest and limited finger dexterity. Although he was blessed with strong arms and shoulders, he knew it was going to be a huge task to relearn how to live from the perspective of a wheelchair. He had to learn how to push his own wheelchair, as well as accomplishing basic tasks that able-bodied people often take for granted, like brushing his teeth, dressing, and eating with utensils. Also, he had to learn how to manage his bladder and bowel routine post-injury.

Despite his spinal cord injury, Steve maintains that there’s no “pity party” about it.

I am blessed. I am a stronger person because of what I’ve been through and overcome.
Steve Kearley

It took time and rehabilitation therapy, but soon life went back to a new normal. That meant going back to living just like everybody else: dating, going to college, getting a job, playing sports like wheelchair rugby, and staying active.

A Career as a Patient Advocate

Steve has been involved in the industry of catheters and urological supplies for over a decade now. 8 of those years were spent with J&R Medical, which was co-founded by James DuBose, who is also one of our Patient Advocates. Steve started out as a urology sales representative in the state of Texas, then transitioned into a management role then became a co-owner and partner.

In 2018, 180 Medical acquired J & R Medical. Today, Steve works as a Patient Advocate, reaching lives at rehabilitation centers and children’s hospitals across the nation.

A typical day in the life for Steve includes scheduling visits, making initial contacts, following up with case managers, and most importantly, connecting with patients who have recently experienced a spinal cord injury.

Steve’s Favorite Part of the Job

steve playing wheelchair rugby rampage
Photo credit: Scuba Voyage

Steve loves getting to share his story with newly injured patients. But more than anything, he loves seeing their faces light up with a smile. “I love seeing those big smiles that come from these patients seeing how I live so independently. I think most don’t believe they can do it until they see someone else in their condition actually do it.”

Steve continues, “Recently, I met with a few people who just could not believe that I flew out to see them all on my own. I took an Uber to the hotel and checked in. I dress and take care of myself. I have a college education and a career I love. I have a beautiful family with a wife and four kids. I’m active in sports, and I just live my life to the fullest..” He says there’s a special feeling in helping others realize their lives aren’t over just because of their SCI.

For years, Steve has been positively changing lives. For example, just 5 years ago, he met someone who had suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury due to a gunshot wound. “He was down and distraught over his new injury and facing life in a wheelchair,” says Steve. “Then I told him my story of triumph over my SCI, and it gave him the strength and courage to tackle this situation head-on. He changed his attitude, worked hard, and started living life again. Recently, he graduated from college with a degree in social work, which he chose because he wanted to give back too.”

Sharing Information About Catheters for SCI Patients

Steve also helps patients out by sharing more about the great service and supplies they can receive from 180 Medical. “They often have so many things going through their heads already, so it’s comforting to them to hear that their catheter needs will be taken care of quickly and accurately.”

With plenty of years of experience in using intermittent catheters as a spinal cord injured person, Steve is happy to share this tip: “No one catheter is right for every person. I have tried virtually every catheter on the market, and I have found what works for me. Do not be afraid to try out different products to discover what works best for you. What you’re given while in the hospital may not be the right product for you as an individual.”

Living Life to the Fullest with a Spinal Cord Injury

Outside of work, Steve stays busy and active with his hobbies and his family.

His biggest stress reliever is wheelchair rugby. “I was blessed to play on the USA Wheelchair Rugby Team,” Steve says. “I’ve traveled the world and won gold and bronze medals at world championships.”

Currently, Steve plays and coaches for the TIRR Texans, a wheelchair rugby team based out of Houston, TX. Last year, they finished #7 in the USA out of over 50 teams nationwide.

steve kearley wheelchair rugby
Steve keeps active with wheelchair rugby. Photo credit: Scuba Voyage.

“I am healthier, stronger, and more confident because of sports like wheelchair rugby,” says Steve. “I still play rugby 29 years later and still compete strongly against newer and younger players. I am a fiercely competitive person on the court. Although I’m older now, I’m still considered one of the top players in the country in my class. Plus, I’ve gotten to meet and mentor so many people as a result of playing wheelchair rugby.”

He loves getting to watch his kids participate in sports too. His daughter was a competitive cheerleader, and his other daughter plays basketball. Also, his twin boys play soccer and football.

Steve with three of his four children

Overcoming Challenges with an SCI

Steve is honored to be able to help others who are new to living with their spinal cord injury. He understands firsthand the many obstacles that are thrown in their path, and he works to help them change their mindset about their new injury.

He’s had to deal with many of his own challenges, after all. Probably the biggest one was overcoming people’s doubts about whether he would be able to do something as well as someone else just because he’s in a wheelchair.

At 180 Medical, we work hard to provide the best service and high-quality catheters, ostomy products, and incontinence supplies to our customers. With every interaction, we want to help positively affect lives.

If you’re seeking a reliable company to provide your supplies, contact us today. We’ll be glad to serve you and help turn your life around.

Call Toll-Free (877) 688-2729

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About the Author
Jessica is a Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical, and she's been a part of the 180 family for 10 years. Her favorite part of working here is the positive impact we make on lives.

She loves cooking plant-based meals, meditating, drinking tea, listening to new indie music and podcasts, and taking walks with her dogs.