The first airplane flight Jimmy Green ever took was when he left Louisville, Kentucky and headed to U.S. Army basic training at Ft. Benning, Georgia. The 17 year old had just graduated high school and enlisted, thinking it would give him a good opportunity to go to college.
A year later, he was heading back to his post in Ft. Lewis, Washington when the vehicle he was in rolled over. At age eighteen, Jimmy became a paraplegic.
The drastic life change was devastating. Jimmy became depressed, especially because he was not fully emotionally prepared to deal the challenges of paralysis. He felt he couldn’t open up to friends and family because his friends were so young themselves, and his family had no idea what he was going through.
Jimmy found himself facing a completely different future than the one he envisioned when he first got on that plane to Georgia a year earlier.
But days after his injury, a PVA representative came to his room and gave him information about PVA and how the organization could help. Jimmy joined right away and PVA helped secure his benefits so he could concentrate on healing and building a future.
One day PVA sent Jimmy a letter announcing the formation of a wheelchair basketball team in Louisville. He had no idea what it was all about, but was curious enough to go check it out.
It blew his mind. “It just lit a spark,” he says.
“It totally changed my life. That was the beginning of everything.”
He had always been an athlete. But after finding himself in a wheelchair, he thought all of those opportunities for competition were gone. Once he saw the exhibition team playing hard, and was able to meet the guys and talk about common things they were going through, he found a new sense of hope and purpose. He knew he wasn’t alone.
“For the first time since I was paralyzed, I was around guys who were also going through all this stuff that I was going through.”
In addition to introducing him to sports, PVA also helped him secure almost double his earned benefits and has also assisted him with securing adaptive equipment.
Today, Jimmy is a member of PVA’s Central Florida chapter, and is on track to attend the Games for the 25th year in a row. He says the event gives him a great incentive to stay healthy, because missing a year would mean missing out on seeing all the friends he has made over the years.
“PVA introduced me to the Games and to wheelchair basketball. That was the starter to get back on track and make the best life that I could.”