Former UGA Student Makes 60-Mile “Push” to Athens in Wheelchair
In April of 2007, University of Georgia junior James Lee was riding his motorcycle with friends in the North Georgia mountains when he was involved in a devastating motorcycle accident that shattered his T6 vertebra, paralyzing him from the waist down. It has now been just over five years since he last walked, but he has remained focused on being independent even though he is now confined to a wheelchair. Lee spoke of his accident stating “I actually don’t remember it. There were three or four days that I just have no recollection of. But I woke up in the emergency room in critical care, and I realized that I could’t move half of my body.” Although it’s been a long time since the accident, he still cannot look at the police report detailing his accident because he is simply too afraid to look at it.Georgia Roadway
The tendency to dwell on an accident of this magnitude with such devastating consequences seems almost unavoidable, but Lee has made a concerted effort to focus on moving forward — literally. While training for the Susan G. Komen Walk of a Cure, he realized that there were certain limitations for those confined to a wheelchair on the roadways. Instead of succumbing to these limitations, he started his own nonprofit organization called Walking is Overrated that is dedicated to raising awareness of the obstacles that roadways present and to promote wheelchair fitness. To show his dedication, Lee recently completed a 60-mile journey from the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce in Alpharetta to the Tate Student Center on the UGA campus. He remarked, “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. At no point in the event did I think, ‘I’m just going to give up’ — that thought never actually came to my mind. But the thought of, ‘What am I doing? What have I gotten myself into?’ That came up. But I took it one push at a time, a mile at a time, and it just happened.” Lee’s next big push is a 100-mile journey along the Silver Comet Trail from Atlanta to the Alabama border and in the fall, he will attempt to break the world record for greatest distance covered in 24 hours in a wheelchair; a distance of 113 miles.
Lee is an inspiration and a great example of a motivated person refusing to let a devastating motorcycle accident prevent him from attaining his goals. So often we see instances where individuals give up after a life event affects them negatively, but it’s wonderful to see someone go beyond accepting their new role and actually embrace it as part of their new life. Unfortunately, there are many more people who never survived a serious accident like this. That’s why it’s so important to be well versed in motorcycle safety by searching out the proper resources and consistently attending motorcycle safety refresher courses. You can never afford to be ill-prepared.