“God gave me a second chance at life when I had my car accident at age 19 and I am determined to try and make an impact in this world for the better.”
A car accident left Jeremy paralyzed from the waist down—but that didn’t stop him from working as a 911 dispatcher for eight years before medically retiring. Now, he spends his time volunteering with Rediscovering Outdoor Activities & Recreation (ROAR) a non-profit that encourages people with disabilities to get outside and be active, regardless of their level of mobility. And he certainly lives the mission himself. He’s still an avid athlete and outdoorsman—his passions include hiking, fishing, kayaking, and going to the beach. Click to the next slide to read our Q&A with Jeremy.
MF: How did fitness help you after the accident to physically gain back strength and health?
JK: Exercise and fitness have helped me to be able to live an independent life. I am a t4-t5 paraplegic and without the proper exercise and fitness, I wouldn’t have been able to transfer in and out of my wheelchair and been able to push far in my wheelchair without the help of an able-bodied person. Without fitness and exercise, I wouldn’t have been able to lift myself into my pickup truck to be able to go places on my own. Fitness and exercise is mandatory if you want to be able to live a healthy and independent life.
MF: What about mentally—how has maintaining a fitness routine helped you to stay positive?
JF: Maintaining a fitness routine allows me to get outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. That in itself is a great stress reliever. It has also allowed me to play sports. I play on a wheelchair softball team. The comradery that you get from being around others with the same types of injuries is huge to staying positive and making the most out of each day.
JK: My fitness routine now is handcycling, kayaking, and going on hiking adventures in my GRIT Freedom Chair. I try to alternate my fitness routine by handcycling at least three miles one day and going for a push in my GRIT Freedom Chair the next day. The cool thing about the chair is that you use levers to propel you forward, so I am getting a great bench press each time I move in and out with the levers. Finally, my wife and I try to go kayaking once a week if the weather and time permits.
MF: What is your advice for guys who are struggling with any sort of obstacle, whether they’ve survived an accident or are facing any other challenge in life?
JK: My advice for those who are struggling with any sort of obstacle is to get up each day, set small goals, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t make the goal right away. The key is to keep trying and fighting for it, because eventually you will exceed that goal and will start looking for another goal to achieve. My hope is that others out there dealing with similar circumstances see my determination and it will encourage them to go and make the best of each day!