"You have to know what’s right for you, you have to advocate for yourself, but go back to living your life, immediately, as soon as possible."
*** Jeff Hayne is a certified peer mentor with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.***
“It changes everything when you realize that you’re not stuck in the bed… You think you’re going to die that way, but even if you can’t breathe on your own, there’s sip-and-puff chairs that can allow you to go anywhere you want."
"You can’t let things get you down and keep you down. Don’t live about the chair or for the chair... live for yourself, your family, and your loved ones."
“When I was first injured all I wanted to do was walk again. I just wanted my body back, and it was really like I went through a death where I lost a best friend and he’s no longer here, but that best friend is me.”
“My parents were told that I wouldn’t live past a year... So now look at me... I can retire when I’m 48, so hopefully I can take advantage of that and maybe start another career, and travel with my partner who is sitting right next to me, and get him to travel the world with me.”
“Being in the chair has brought me closer to life itself. With the kids, everything means more, it’s even brought me closer to the good Lord... I would pray before only when something good happened… now I talk to him whether it’s good or bad.”
“As a recovering perfectionist, doing anything I wasn’t good at was a risk. But getting out on the tennis court, feeling the ability to swing the racket, make contact with that ball, it was just a great experience… and that’s when my world just opened up.”
“I don’t need to walk to be happy. I just need to be me to be happy, and like my friends say, once you know Wendi Smiley you’ll never forget Wendi Smiley. Nothing has changed about me except for my means of transportation.”
“I lived from bar to bar always drinking, and at a fast pace, and I was trying to get back to my roots to where I wouldn’t live that lifestyle... and that’s when I realized this wasn’t an accident, this was a prayer answered.”
“I was embarrassed to be seen in a chair. I just remember that barrier of people seeing me in a chair and I just was like, ‘Uh, what are they thinking?’ Now I’ve got this attitude like, ‘World, see me now!’ It’s so cool.”
"Highlights for me personally... it may not have been when I won, it may have been when I lost and developed a new skill set and overcame a problem and then won."
“It’s really satisfying when you get to go out and watch a rocket test fire, to know that no matter when we finally do get back to the moon… I’m going to have a hand in that.”
“You’re going to have falls, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Don’t be afraid to fall because if you can survive this you can survive anything thrown at you.”
"People need to stop thinking 'Who is going to hire me in a wheelchair?' Forget the wheelchair part, what can you bring to the table?
“I started flying gliders, like literally two weeks out of rehab… you’re eye-to-eye with hawks circling in a thermal… and I’m circling directly over the spot I was injured, but it never even crossed my mind.”
“The thing I’ve found raising the kids from a chair is kids in general are really genuine and caring, and forgiving… and just being able to show them that yeah things can happen in life and you can go on and still be a person out there doing your thing... I think my kids are probably better for it.”
“I look on life as I've had the best of both worlds. I did have the opportunity to walk and now I have the opportunity to look at life in a different way.”
**Ayana is a certified peer mentor through United Spinal**
“I’ve gained so many positive skills during my paralysis that I know that everything happens exactly the way it’s supposed to, and as it should.”
Check out Sandy’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/santaz33064.
"Be willing to seek out help to get advice from others that are in a similar situation, because that’s going to be the biggest benefit, whether you’re ready to accept the fact that you’re injured and life is going to be different or not.”
**Brian is a certified peer mentor with the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association and the United Spinal Association.**
“I went to graduate school and I went sky diving and stuff like that, but I’d say personally the most surprising accomplishments have been what I’ve been able to do to adapt… it’s just like such a boost to come up with ideas and workarounds.”
**James is a certified peer mentor through the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation**
“I would just encourage people that are differently-abled and not differently-abled to actually sit down and have a conversation… because we tend to look at the outside and judge strictly off of that… but all along we’re kind of dealing with the same things just in different shells.”
Check out Eboni's website at https://www.ebonipministries.com.
“It feels good to be out and have some fresh air and a breeze on your face and hot dog and beverage from the stands - that’s when you start living again, when you start partaking in things that are around you.”
**Joel is a certified peer mentor through the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center**
"My son was a big mentor to me, he was telling me, 'Dad, just be patient, don’t worry, it’s going to work out,' ... because I used to say that to him as a kid... and I love that role reversal."
“There are stand-up comics but I can’t find a sit-down comic. I can make jokes about things that no one else could touch with a 10-foot pole, and I’m only a five-foot pole. I need to go back to work.”
"What really helped me get back into the swing of things is figuring out what you’re most afraid of, just overcoming fear. The higher the fear threshold, the higher the reward."