At age 18, Josh Heine was just beginning his life as an adult. He had graduated high school, enlisted in the Navy, and his girlfriend was pregnant. Three weeks before shipping out, Josh was involved in a car accident where he sustained many injuries, including a spinal cord injury. Josh had to learn how to cope with life challenges with a disability, but he pushed forward.
Josh became a C5-C6 quadriplegic as a result of the accident. Josh was able to walk with a ‘complicated gait’ as he calls it after 6 months in rehab, but he relied on a wheelchair for his main source of mobility.
Josh refers to the seven years after his injury as ‘The Gloomy Dark Ages.’ His relationship with his girlfriend ended, and his parents sold his childhood home (causing him to move into a non-accessible home.) Sadly, his father passed away in 2014. After a period of mourning, Josh used his father as motivation to better himself as he states he had a sense of shame that his father had passed away without seeing him accomplish anything.
“So out of remorse, frustration, and boredom I started wheeling.”
Josh started to become more physically active. He would push himself a few blocks each day, and eventually he was able to push his wheelchair 16 blocks. A 16-block push became a ritual for Josh. He started living a healthy lifestyle, quitting smoking and drinking, focusing on exercise.
Josh and his friends raised money to get Josh a racing wheelchair. Josh began training and started entering 5k races.
Josh’s love life also changed when he was interviewed by a reporter who eventually became his girlfriend. He credits her passion for her career as motivation that enriches his life. Josh proves life is full of opportunities, one just has to be focused and determined.
“The more I focus on things, the more I am able to do them. I learned if things seem impossible, you simply dive in. Eventually, life opens up a host of possibilities.”
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