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Steps of Courage

Cartersville native, Joel Cox, found hope in the midst of tragedy.

There are people who cross our path that leave an impression, teach us what it means to overcome. Heartbreak falls on every person in different ways. We don’t get to pick the trials life hands to us.

Heroes are the people who can take their experiences of hardship and sometimes excruciating tragedy with courage and grace and somehow turn them into stories of hope and courage and triumph.

Heroes don’t quit when the quitting’s easy. They persist even when hope appears to be gone.

Joel Cox, 27, knows what it means to be thankful for every sure step, every new day and every single breath. He knows what it means to persist.

Five years ago, in August of 2006, Joel suffered massive head injuries in an automobile accident that plunged him into a coma for more than a month.

When he finally woke, his family realized that they had a long road ahead of them. Joel experienced trauma to the brain which affected his memory capacity and motor skills, and neurological damage that prevented him from feeling the entire right side of his body.

His prognosis was he would never walk again.

“I don’t remember much of anything from the first year I was in the hospital,” said Cox. “My memory is horrible now.”

After a long, bedridden recuperation in the hospital, Joel was transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Atlanta where he was determined to overcome his diagnosis and learn to stand on his own two feet.

“I was stuck in a wheelchair for three months. It was touch and go,” said Cox. “But then after some work, they taught me to walk again. I was using a walker. Eventually, they even got me a cane, but I never used it.”

Having overcome the greatest challenge of his life, Joel wasn’t content to stop there. He was willing to do whatever it took to get his life back and get better.

Cox joined Bodyplex Gym in Cartersville and forced himself to go walk on the treadmill and work with a trainer once every two weeks. Before long his strength and ability improved and he was at the gym every week, and then three times a week, and then four.

Before long the man who doctors told would never walk again was running mile after mile on the treadmill.  

Three years and a lifetime of determination and hard work later, Cox got a job working at .

“I like working there,” said Cox. “I needed to do something like that. It wasn’t too long after getting my job that my doctors certified me to drive again. A lot of good stuff happened all at once.”

Cox’s relationship with his family became very strong after the accident.

“My brother and I are best friends now. My family has been fabulous with all of it. My parents are there for me when I need them to be and it’s awesome,” he said.

So how does Cox feel looking on back on all that’s happened?

“My memory is horrible now, so I really don’t remember that much of the bad stuff. What I want now is just to get better,” he said. “I still have to be careful with what I do because there are a lot of side effects that I deal with.”

Despite all the hard work ahead of him, one thing is for sure. Cox’s spirit and positive attitude is the stuff heroes are made of. People everywhere could learn a thing or two from him about hope and the unbeatable power of the human spirit.

“I’m more positive now for sure,” said Cox. “I’m still alive. I’m good, that’s good enough for me. I don’t take anything for granted, not all at. It’s definitely strange how God works. I’m still alive.”

Scott Hersey April 04, 2011 at 03:35 AM
Wonderful story! Joel is a great person and he can definitly out run a lot of people on a treadmill. He shows great strength through his actions...he doesn't give up.
Carol Burnside April 04, 2011 at 07:54 PM
Great story, Brenna. Saw your mention of it on FB and popped right over. :)
Brenna Crowder April 05, 2011 at 01:31 AM
Thanks Carol! I'm glad you liked it....Joel is such a great guy, I couldn't resist sharing his story! :)
Scott Roberts April 12, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Joel is our family's miracle. We all suffered from the time the doctors told us he wouldn't make it until he awoke from the coma. His Mom and I were his primary caregivers for the first few months after he came home which was extremely difficult for us. Can you imagine having a 6ft 4in "baby"? We, as a family, basically had to start over just as if he had just been born teaching him to walk, talk, eat with utensils...the whole nine yards. Joel is OUR miracle and I'd happily go through it all again just to keep him with us!!
Tabitha April 12, 2011 at 04:22 PM
I'm happy to hear that Joel is doing so much better. It has been so long that I have spoken to Deb and Scott and I pray every nite for everyone in the family. God be with you all. My love and Prayers are go out to you every nite. Keep it up Joel, You're a miricale man. The story inspired me and I thank you for that inspiration!!!!! God be with you

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