Archived Stories

Juan's Story

Jan 1, 2020

An accident like the one Juan had in 2004 can’t help but change your life.  One minute you’re a husband, father, Detroit police officer, and the next, you’re lying in a hospital bed, without movement or feeling. For many, it’s easy to say, ‘my life is over.’

“It took me about three months to regain enough consciousness to understand that I had a motorcycle accident, that my neck had been broken and I was paralyzed from the chest down.  It was a nightmare.  All I could do was think about things that I couldn’t do anymore.  I became very depressed.”

Juan spent several months at Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM) where he relearned simple every day tasks that most people take for granted. He says the therapy was great, but it was something else that RIM offered that shook him out of his depression.

“Sports! I was a football and basketball player. When you’re laying in your bed after your accident, you think your life is over.  But I was wrong!  Juan got involved in the RIM Foundation’s adaptive sports program, called SportsAbility.

“I started by doing table tennis and then club throwing, and today I’m training for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.”

Juan recently broke Michigan’s record in club throwing, a sport similar to hammer throwing but done with a club. His success in the state earned him a trip to a special training camp for Paralympians. 

“I never would have imagined an opportunity like this!  SportsAbility gave me purpose and drive to make something incredible happen.  And, today I tell people the only thing I can’t do is walk.”

Juan loves to share his success at the hospital’s monthly spinal cord injury roundtable for newly injured patients.  He encourages them to take advantage of all RIM has to offer and find their purpose.