Gifted Athlete with Paraplegia Rekindles His Passion for Sports, Winning National and International Titles
Jeremy Maddox talks about the power of a positive attitude and the support of family, friends and Shepherd Center.
By Jeremy Maddox
Shepherd Center Athlete and Former Patient
I have always been passionate about sports. I am an avid water skier, softball player, basketball player, road racer and more. I have competed against some of the world’s most athletic individuals while traveling around the United States and even internationally. In fact, I successfully compete in sports while simultaneously owning a business, Alexia Medical Group.
All of that seems pretty incredible, right? In my situation, it is especially significant because I have T-4 paraplegia, which means I am still a gifted athlete with paralysis from the chest down. I do not look at my injury as something that limits me. Instead, I look at it with a positive mindset of “What else can I do?”
Before I sustained a spinal cord injury at age 16, I was a sports fanatic. I loved it all – basketball, running and even motocross. The fact that I was already athletic before my injury certainly helped with my involvement in adaptive sports, but that does not mean the transition from able-bodied activities to adaptive was a simple task. There were a lot of physical and mental hurdles to overcome that required confidence, patience and irreplaceable aid from both the staff at Shepherd Center and friends I made along the way.
I also realized that a positive attitude is incredibly important because it is one of the first things that others notice about me. Granted, like everyone else in the world, I have my share of dark days. But I choose to get back in the light and be positive. It’s more important to me to be inspirational to others than to dwell on my shortcomings.
Before I achieved my athletic goals, I underwent intense therapy and rehabilitation at Shepherd Center. In the past several years, that rehabilitation has paid off, helping me reach my goals, one of which was the National Water Ski title in early September. I traveled to White Stone Lake Estates in Talking Rock, Ga., for the 2014 U.S. Disabled Waterski Nationals and came home with a National Title for Ski Jump in the men’s seated division – thanks to my sponsors, Shepherd Center and the Barbra Bolding and Jim Grew Fund. I was thrilled to take home a national title.
Winning and succeeding athletically is not something new to me. In fact, just last year, I competed in the World Disabled Waterski Nationals as a U.S. team member and came home with a gold medal. The U.S. team prevailed over 11 teams in Milan, Italy, marking the team’s third consecutive win. I was even able to hold the U.S. flag during the opening ceremony at the tournament. That was a huge honor in itself. I am also a member of the Shepherd Center Sluggers softball team, which traveled to Minnesota in August to compete in the World Series of Softball. Sports are a part of who I am, and my participation has served as a great way to inspire others to discover what they can do – instead of what limits them.
Both Shepherd Center and the friends I’ve met through adaptive sports have helped me achieve my athletic accomplishments and live a fulfilling life. Shepherd Center never felt like just a hospital or rehabilitation center to me. It feels like a home filled with family members who genuinely care about me. Their goal is to ensure that people live a full, happy life instead of just helping heal their injuries. The friends I’ve met through adaptive sports have really pushed me to work harder and succeed at whatever I do. I often tell people: “Everyone in life has a wheelchair of some kind. You can just see mine."
One of Shepherd Center’s main goals is to provide peer support during rehabilitation. Each individual receives more than just medical care; they receive an experience that brings healing and hope. This statement is certainly true for me. I look at everything I have accomplished after becoming a T-4 paraplegic, and even though my accident was a tragedy, there have many more positives than negatives to come out of it.
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JEREMY MADDOX is a champion, multi-sport athlete with T-4 paraplegia. He sustained a spinal cord injury at age 16. Now 32 years old, Jeremy is a successful business owner and lives a full life that includes competition in adaptive water skiing, softball, basketball and wheelchair racing. He lives in metro Atlanta. You can connect with Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jeremy.maddox or LinkedIn by clicking here.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 935 inpatients, 541 day program patients and more than 7,300 outpatients each year.