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Perspective, Perseverance, and Power! Learn How KJ’s Tragic Accident Propelled Him to ‘Push ON’ as an Award Winning Athlete, Motivational Icon, and Overall Warrior

KJ’s life was forever impacted 7 years ago when he was hit by a car coming from his aunt’s house. He suffered a concussion, a collapsed lung, a fractured spine, and a piece of his pelvic bone was broken off.

KJ’s mother Deewanda vividly recalls, “As my Dad performed CPR on him you could hear theair coming right back out of his chest. We will never forget that sound. They rushed him to ourlocal hospital where he was airlifted to UMMC. KJ is now paralyzed from the waist down. Nothing prepares you for the daily struggles, the major changes, or the emotions that come withall of it.

There is no manual that explains how to maneuver through a life that is totally different from the life you had before. KJ has every reason under the sun to throw in the towel. He has every reason to ask “why me”. He has every reason to say today I don’t want to go, I don’t want to do, but that’s NOT his style!

Thriving

When the last tube was removed from his little body he hit the floor rolling and he has been rolling fast ever since.”

KJ’s zest for life is infectious, and boy does he infect all he meets. He was discharged from the hospital in the summer, and by the fall, he was playing wheelchair basketball (for almost seven years now). He now plays with the Lakeshore Foundation (Paralympic Training Facility of Alabama) Sharks. Ranked #3 in the nation.

Triumph

Each year he attends various Paralympic camps, California's Annual Challenged Athletes Foundations Best Day in Triathlon, California's Angel City games in LA, and Junior National Adaptive Track and Field (setting national records with 12 gold medals thus far) events heldin Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Indiana. One of his proudest moments was last February when he was crowned the Ambassador/Champion for Blair Batson Children’s Hospital, the very hospital that saved his life (and Mom’s).

KJ is a warrior and he lets nothing slow him down. Last summer he was chosen to be 2018’s Junior Athlete of the Year, and he graced the cover of one of the top adaptive sports magazines, Sports N’ Spokes. Robin Roberts chose him to be her first Thriver of the year and this January he was featured on Good Morning America!

Strength Inside and Out
The Ultimate Workout and Recovery Spider System (UWAR) has played a significant role inKJs life! It has made him stronger and faster. Helping him to go forward to break and setnumerous records in track and field. It has increased his confidence tremendously. He lovesbeing able to workout whenever he wants. The machine is adaptable, adjustable, and thankfullyeasy to use from his bed or chair. The UWAR has played a tremendous role in KJ’s recoveryand rehabilitation, as well as continued strength-training.

Before we received the equipment we had to burn up the highway every week for PhysicalTherapy (PT) an hour away. With the UWAR, we were able to bring everything they did in PThome. This was beneficial financially, and KJ no longer had to miss school. We are very thankful for our UWAR and the genius minds behind it!

KJ’s motto for life is PUSH ON and he practices that motto every single day. We don’t know why our lives took a sharp right in 2012 but what we do know is, if God brings you to it, he’ll definitely bring you through it!!

UWAR KJ


KJ’s Q & A

Most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading yourcompany (became a leader in my community).

I really don’t have just one story - I have many. One is becoming the ambassador for myhospital that saved my life and gave me my first wheelchair. I’ve been able to meet somany kids that look like me. I remember waking up not being able to feel my legs, andmy parents by my bed telling me we were going to fight - and with God, we would figurethis out. Since then, I haven’t looked back! It’s pretty awesome to be able to talk to kidsin the very same situation that I was in and tell them that everything will be ok—thatthere’s a cool new world waiting for them.

Another one is how the Ultimate Workout and Recovery Spider System (UWAR) played asignificant role my life, rehabilitation, recovery, and continued strength-training. It made mestronger and faster, and played a big role in breaking and setting numerous records in track andfield. This increased my confidence tremendously, and I am proud to be an athlete! Thanks to UWAR, I love being able to workout whenever I want. Before we received the equipment, wehad to burn up the highway every week for Physical Therapy (PT), an hour away. With the UWAR, we were able to bring everything they did in PT home. The machine is adaptable, adjustable, and thankfully easy to use from my bed or chair.

A third story is being on Good Morning America! Michael Strahan actually said my name and picked at my voice being deeper than his - now that’s awesome! To be interviewed by Robin Roberts Productions, and she being from MS just like me, that rocked my world. She actuallywanted to hear my story. That to me is a powerful thing.

Probably the best stories are the ones where families like ours come up to us and saystuff like, if it wasn’t for my family's journey and showing them it’ll all be ok and paralysisisn’t the end of the world.

How do I define leadership...

Showing other kids like me, it’s ok. It’s ok to be in a wheelchair. If someone has aproblem with it that’s their problem. Never let that slow you down. I may have to dothings a little different but different doesn’t mean can’t. Anything you can do, I can do. Iloved sports before my accident and I love sports now. I just play them a little differently. When I’m out there on that court, nothing slows me down—and that’s the way I live lifeby letting nothing slow me down.

If I could inspire a movement

If I could inspire a movement it would be a movement that included ALL people. No matter what they look like or what they have to use to get around. Inclusion matters and I wish everyone would embrace and understand that. My parents have sacrificed a lot, and in my home we changed the name of everyday things to make being me easier. Change is good and it can be beneficial to all of us. Change your way of seeing kids and adults like me. We are people too and sitting on the sidelines is not something most of us like doing.

Why does every sport I play have to be labeled adaptive? Why can’t I play with normies (“normal people”) and it be called just SPORTS? Why am I labeled handicap? I’ve seen more normies with more disabilities than me. When I watch movies, I want to see more people that look like me. When I play my video games, I want to see more characters who look like me. When I watch fashion shows, I want to see kids like me rolling therunways. That’s ok! Inclusion matters. Everybody matters.

Favorite life lesson quote...

My granny always told me,
“If God brings you to it, he’ll bring you through it”
And of course my motto:
PUSH ON!

If I could have anything...

I would have my own room. Being disabled is expensive. All of my activities are out ofthe state. Mississippi really doesn’t have a lot so we have to travel everywhere just so Ican have a chance at sports.

That’s why I’m, so thankful that I have the UWAR system that I can use anytime athome, whether on a chair or bed. It’s easy and just makes sense, especially in mycontinued strength training as an athlete.

Don’t get me on wheelchairs, sports wheelchairs, standing frames, bathroom chairs, catheters, and ramps. I see my mom and dad hustling everyday just so me and mybrother can have what we need. Right now we are leaving with my PaPa, and my brother and I have to share a room. So if I had magical powers, I would build a house sothat my brother and I would have our own rooms. I would also make it wheelchair accessible. I can’t reach the microwave, refrigerator, or the cabinets like my younger brother and everyone else. I think this hurts my mom because I always have to ask my family for help with simple things that I want to do on my own. I always hear her say that when she hits the lotto, the first thing she’s going to do is get a house where I can reach everything and be independent just like everyone else in the house.

The person in the world I would love to have lunch with

Michael Jordan because he the GOAT!!!

I would love to ask him how it feels to wear any (MY FAVORITE KICKS) Jordan shoe hewants. This man dominated my favorite sport, and I hope to do the same on myLakeshore team in Alabama (I’m on Varsity this Fall), college, and in the Paralympics. I would also ask him to help me develop a fly shoe for kids like me - a soft-but-firm shoethat is easy to put on, affordable, and hot!!

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