The young man stood at the edge of the beach. He took a deep breath and raced into the water. Waist-deep, he steepled his fingers above his head and dove beneath the waves. He had a moment of giddiness as the cool water rushed over him.
Then the world went black.
Days later, Shawn woke up in the hospital. Doctors stood by his bed and explained he was a quadriplegic. He was twenty-two.
The next few years were full of rehabilitation facilities, appointments, and full-time care.
At some point, Shawn discovered Granite State Independent Living.
Through their program, he worked with a Personal Care Attendant to help with bathing, dressing, cleaning, and cooking.
When he needed a new wheelchair, GSIL put him in touch with the vendor.
They facilitated supplies, ran errands, and drove him to the doctor’s office.
Most recently, they built Shawn a new ramp. It leads to his front door.
Because of GSIL, Shawn can stay in his own home.
He is not dependent on nurses or doctors.
He has maintained his dignity through independence. And this is no small thing.
It is a story of resilience, and determination, and finding the right kind of support.
It’s been over three decades since that day on the beach. In that time, Shawn has earned two Associate’s degrees, a Bachelor’s in Information Technology, and a Master’s in Computer Science.
He lives a life rich with discovery, and purpose, and friendship.
After all, a life lived differently is not a life less lived.