Steve Meehan Age: 27 Resident of St. Augustine, FL Occupation: Sales“I was getting a plane out of a tree for a little boy and fell out of the tree about 15 feet on my face. I was paddled back to life a couple times and was in a coma after that. I spent six days in that coma in the intensive care and I was then there for about two weeks after I woke up. I was always an athlete in high school so I began walking again after just a few days.”
"When I got into my accident, I fell on my hand. My pointer finger was bent all the way back to my palm and the doctors had to reconstruct it my hand completely. I didn’t want to feel different when I was in school. I went to a private Catholic high school so there wasn’t much in the way of aid. I could get some extra time on tests but then I would feel like I was being singled out as being different if I took the extra time."
"I did have a note-taker since I couldn’t really write but I think that that was just really hard. I think that a big part of learning is being able to hear something and writing it down helps you remember it, it helps with cognitive skills. But I didn’t have that of course. I was kind of just given a paper and told to read it and memorize it. Even today I can read something and walk away and forget probably about 40-50% of it immediately."
Dennis Turner Age: 79 Resident of St. Augustine Occupation: Retired "Well I'm here almost everyday feeding the dogs treats. It's been about 10 or 15 years that I've been doing it now. I had my own dog for about 12 years before she passed away. Now it's kind of like I like when you go and visit your grandpa. He's nice to hang out with and see, but at the end of the day, you can just bring him home and not deal with things anymore. It's kind of like that for me and the dogs. I get the entertainment but there's no mess to clean up now."
"I worked for 35 years as a school teacher in Michigan. I taught industrial arts like welding and other things like that. Everything changed when computers came around but I was one of the first teachers to learn how to use them and teach others how to use those computers so it was a really neat time. I couldn't use them today though, now I just have an iPad that I can't work."
"Whenever my daughter would get frustrated with me, she would say 'Why don't you get a real job?', talking about me teaching. She's been a teacher for over about 15 years now. She teaches art."
Alec Zappone Age: 20 Resident of St. Augustine Occupation: Student, Lifeguard "Actually this sounds kind of crazy but I did break my back once. It was the summer of my 8th grade year and I was at this girl’s house that we were all partying at when her parents were out of town. My sister who is a few years older than me was there with her friends so I thought that I would be cool when I started high school if I just got to know some of the older kids."
"I was super small back then. I was like 5’1”. There was this guy that was there that was a junior in high school and he was trying to hook up with one of my sister’s friends. For whatever reason, I started talking crap to him and kind of put him on blast. We were by were by the pool when he jumped on me and I felt every vertebrae in my back crack from my tail bone all the way up to my C1 which is in your neck. He was huge, he was like 6’2” and on the football team at the high school."
"For the next week, my back hurt but the pain wasn’t too unbearable. It wasn’t until I was playing soccer and fell that it really went wrong. For about 30 seconds I just couldn’t move my legs. It was one of those moments when all you can hear is your own heart beat and everything is kind of moving in slow motion. I tried to kick my legs but just couldn’t. My team mates carried me off the field and my parents brought me to the ICU. It was then that they told me that I had broken my back and the doctors told me that I really should be paralyzed."
"For the next six months I was in a back brace when I was just starting high school. At first I was just really thankful not to be paralyzed but then about three months in I started to get really bummed. I had to wear this huge back brace from my stomach all the way to my chest and I was really self conscious about it so I would wear these baggy shirts to try to hide it so I just ended up looking really chunky. It was easily the worst year of my life."