Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

CHEERS; Tragedy to Triumph

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

CHEERS; Tragedy to Triumph

Article excerpt

By all rights, Don Worley should be a bitter, helpless man. But, instead, he's turning a personal tragedy into something positive.

The Jacksonville resident and former Navy Seabee was a physical fitness buff who ran 4 miles every day until that fateful summer day in 2005 when a drunken 17-year-old driver ran a red light. His vehicle struck one driven by Worley.

The injuries were so severe that, according to his personal Web site, Worley was given virtually no chance of surviving. His children already had been called to the hospital "to say their last goodbyes."

Miraculously, he did live - and, more than three weeks later, finally emerged from a coma.

But he was paralyzed from the waist down. That's about the worst thing that could happen to an active person such as Worley.

Unable to work, he lost his business and his house. But the more bleak things became, the greater his determination to resume a normal life. And he has been successful.

He still can't walk, or even stand, but he drives and works part time. He also bowls and plays basketball in his wheelchair.

And he's trying to get stem-cell therapy, which he thinks could help him walk again. The therapy will take place in China, where it is less expensive, unless he is accepted in a clinical trial program in this country.

And he certainly hasn't given up on physical fitness.

In fact, he's handcycling from Jacksonville to Chicago. The 1,060-mile trip began Oct. 21 and is expected to end Nov. 17.

The purpose of the trip, a city of Jacksonville news release says, is to make people more aware of underage drinking and to raise money for stem-cell research.

Good idea. At the very least, maybe he will get a lot of media coverage along the way and that will inspire some parents to watch their offspring a little closer.

Rather than getting mired in self-pity, Worley saw his injuries as a challenge to overcome. He is a role model and an inspiration.

MULTIPLE CHEERS

There are two ways to look at the latest philanthropic grants from Bank of America in Jacksonville. As appreciation in an economy that really needs their support. …

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