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Man to make 360-mile journey in wheelchair

Brad Williams attracted the attention of hundreds of motorists as he went through portions of McDuffie and Warren counties in his wheelchair last Sunday.

The 32-year-old paralyzed man from Lavonia, Ga., is making his way to Jacksonville, Fla., to attend the annual Georgia-Florida college football game slated for Oct. 31. A radio station in Athens, 106.1 WNGC, provided him with tickets to the game.

His reason for taking the 360-mile trip isn't about just seeing the game, but to bring about awareness of adult stem cell research and his need for a procedure that might lead to him walking again. Such a procedure would cost $25,000 -- an amount that Mr. Williams is trying to raise on his own, through his church and from private donations. The procedure would be done in Germany.

"I'm determined to walk again," Mr. Williams said, while taking a break along side Georgia Highway 17, just south of Thomson. "I want to do this more for my family than myself."

When Mr. Williams got to the Interstate 20 overpass at Washington Road near Thomson, he was escorted by Deputy Marc Coy of the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department for safety purposes. Thomson Police Department Officer Don Hilson also assisted when he came through downtown Thomson about mid-morning.

"It gives people a ray of hope that things can get better watching him do what he is doing and how his life has changed," Deputy Coy said. "He has a strong will. And he presents a strong Christ presence. It just goes to show that when you get knocked down that you don't have to stay down. He's an inspiration to others."

After getting through McDuffie County, Mr. Williams was aided by a deputy with the Warren County Sheriff's Department. Jefferson County authorities were to escort him through their county Monday after he got a night of sleep.

Mr. Williams set out on the long trek to the Sunshine State, leaving his home about 7 a.m. last Friday, according to his wife, Tabitha, who along with his daughter, Trista, 5, accompanied him in a car through McDuffie, Warren and parts of Jefferson County.

"This is something that's he's wanted to do for a long time," Mrs. Williams said.

Mrs. Williams had to return to the couple's home Sunday afternoon, but his father, Gary Williams, is now involved in helping his son reach his destination. The younger Mr. Williams believes he will arrive in Jacksonville on either Oct. 26 or 27.

Mr. Williams was critically injured when his car slammed into a concrete barrier while traveling along Interstate 85 in June 2006.

"I broke all of my ribs, four of my vertebrae and tore a hole in my aorta," said Mr. Williams, who had been working as an industrial maintenance technician until the wreck.

When paramedics arrived, they knew Mr. Williams had been critically injured and was in danger of bleeding to death. They immediately called for a medical helicopter to take Mr. Williams to a hospital in Greenville. It was there that he underwent emergency heart surgery. Surgeons had to clamp off his aorta, cutting off the blood flow to his legs.

Four days later, a doctor gave him some of the worse news he'd ever been told -- he'd never walk again. He has been unable to walk since.

Immediately, his life took a turn-around -- one that saw him become addicted to prescription medication. The couple began having marital problems, which led to a separation.

Since then, Mr. Williams' life has come full circle. It began with a self examination of what he was doing to himself and to his wife.

He's convinced that when he allowed God to come into his life, the life he once lived is no longer.

"I'm more determined to walk now than I ever have been before," Mr. Williams said. "It took all of this happening to me and my family to realize that God has a much better plan for my life and the lives of my family."

For information on donating to Mr. Williams' surgery fund, go to brad1977.wordpress.com.



Web posted on Thursday, October 22, 2009













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