JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's a huge week for JT Townsend, the Jacksonville man who was paralyzed playing high school football for Episcopal. JT, hurt in 2004, will graduate from the University of North Florida on Friday and to celebrate that day, everyone's invited to a party.
JT remembers how the doctors warned that "if I live, I wouldn't be able to talk, I wouldn't be able to walk," and he wouldn't eat on his own.
He still dreams of walking. (He's able to "command" the toes on his right foot now to move.)
But he can talk just fine. And he loves eating fried shrimp and his mom's macaroni and cheese.
The get-together for JT is for anyone who's found himself inspired watching JT's journey over the last 8 1/2 years.
JT's graduation party will be at Episcopal School of Jacksonville on Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Organizers say there will be food trucks, a cash bar and soft drinks.
Follow this link to the invitation with all the details:
JT will graduate with a B.S. in Sports Marketing. He has an internship now with the Wounded Warriors Project. His dream is to work for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Two years ago, JT created the JT Foundation with the slogan, "JT Gives Back." He said his foundation has given more than $178,000 to 58 local families.
The funds go to buying special equipment for disabled folks.
One little boy, Jack, received a shower chair. He's five, but already getting heavy for his mom to lift and carry.
The family's insurance would not pay the $1,200 bill for the special chair.
Jack's mom, Erin, said JT came personally to deliver the chair and meet with Jack.
Erin said that when bad things happen to people, there are only two choices. One is to fall deeply into pity for yourself. The other is to become a saint.
She said JT is becoming a saint because he's dedicating his life to helping local families.
JT said his family calls his "accident" on the football field an "incident."
He said they believe God has chosen JT for a special mission of helping others.
JT and his family say they are grateful for all the "prayer warriors" who have prayed for him over his journey so far.
They are hoping people all over Jacksonville and the First Coast will come celebrate victory over struggle at the party this Friday night.