I looked up at my best friend and said, “Man, I’m about to die.” In 2012 I was shot multiple times in my abdomen. As I dropped to the ground, all I could think about was my daughter; I was a single father.
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I looked up at my best friend and said, “Man, I’m about to die.” In 2012 I was shot multiple times in my abdomen. As I dropped to the ground, all I could think about was my daughter; I was a single father. This is not how I wanted my story to end. The gunshot wound caused a spinal cord injury that left me paralyzed from the waist down.
I began a new life in a wheelchair and, at first I was deeply depressed. I didn’t think that I had the will or the strength to move forward because the life that I had always known was gone now, and this was a life I was not willing to accept. After my first year of being shot, I was diagnosed with a pressure ulcer on my tailbone. This was literally just from sitting so many hours a day. So that led to two years of bed rest and six surgeries. When I say two years of bed rest, I mean 21 hours a day and only three hours out. I hated who I was. I never knew who I was. I was depressed. I was suicidal.
Then I made a decision. I had to change for my daughter. She was my inspiration. She didn’t see a disabled man. She saw Daddy. I had this little girl that I had to take care of. So, while I’m worried about how the world sees me, I need to focus on how this little girl sees me.
I overcame one of the biggest challenges that I faced whether I was disabled or able-bodied, and that was weight loss. I got into the gym and I’ve never left. My mindset changed and I’m making better choices. So, I decided to create my own opportunities that will in turn help others. New health regimens helped me grow personally and professionally. I drew inspiration from my roles as a father and potential role model. I competed as an adaptive body builder and spread positivity. Then, I established a philanthropic organization, Disabled But Not Really (DBNR). My mission is to bring positivity and hope to the disabled community and beyond.
My passion for DBNR is evident by its expansion. DBNR joins community events to raise awareness about the role of good mental health and physical health in overcoming life’s challenges. We have expanded our scholarship program for disabled individuals who learn ways to improve their nutrition and fitness. We also support KC’s homeless population, providing dignity care packages, water, and food. And we are just getting started. I have won bodybuilding competitions, philanthropic awards, and some even say, “The hearts of the world.” I transformed yet again when working with the Fab Five on season 4 on the Netflix hit show, Queer Eye. The Fab Five taught me how to be true to myself, and I was humbled by the experience.
Everything happens for a reason. The man who shot me saved my life. Once I embraced my reality, I was able to free my mind and transform my life into what it is today. This transition taught me how to be fearless. It taught me how to be confident – to be more.
I believe that the highest human act is to inspire. And that is my purpose in life. I work hard to deliver motivating messages on the power of self-love, resilience, and change, trying to make waves in the world. Are you ready?