Jennifer-McCallson-Story-DogJennifer’s Story

Before breaking my neck two weeks after I turned 20 years old, I was a bouncy college cheerleader who worked as a waitress, coached youth cheerleaders, and loved the outdoors. I was happy with who I was and enjoyed life to the fullest.

Then the unthinkable happened, I collided with one of my male teammates and he landed on my neck. In one quick instance I could not move my body, yet I was fully awake, I became a quadriplegic.

The road of recovery has been filled with many tribulations that I feel I have triumphantly overcome. I am now able to moderately move my arms, but have no use of my hands, and although I need help with all activities of daily living I am able to live independently.

I have come to learn that living independently does not mean without help, it means that one is in control of their own life. Since that fateful day of shattering my fifth cervical vertebrae and damaging my spinal cord I have not only attained many goals expected of mainstream society, but I have transcended above the quality of life expected for me.

Since my accident I have graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in sport management; mentored others with SCI and developed mentoring programs for other non-profits; learned to live independently and manage all of my own care; managed a wheelchair basketball team; volunteered for the Reeve Paralysis Foundation, Canine Companions, HeadNorth Foundation, Empower SCI, Project Walk, and San Diego Adaptive Sports Foundation; hand-cycled in two half-marathon races; routinely go horseback riding; skied the Rocky Mountains and the White Mountains; surfed the Pacific Ocean in California and Hawaii; sailed on the Atlantic; kayaked in quite a few harbors and lakes; snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef and participated in the Challenged Athletes Foundation Tour de Cove spin-a-thon. Christmas 2014 I became engaged to the man of my dreams! Most recently, because of the generosity of the Swim With Mike athletic scholarship, I have been enabled to return to school to earn my Master’s Degree of Social Work from The University of Southern California.