Jerry Townsend, Jr. (J.T.) was born February 7, 1987 in Jacksonville, Florida and is the oldest of three children. JT suffered a spinal cord injury on Friday, October 8, 2004, in a game against Bishop Kenny High School. Despite his injury, JT has made great strides since. He received a scholarship to attend Episcopal High School in 2003. While at Episcopal, JT received many awards and recognition, including The Episcopal High School Foundation Award for Excellence of Character and the Best Athlete of the Episcopal High School Class of 2005.
JT’s football and basketball jerseys were retired in 2009 at a special ceremony for his contributions when he played in the positions of wide receiver on the football team and forward on the basketball team. He is now a college student at the University of North Florida (UNF) where he is majoring in Sports Management.
Life before the injury
“I think that I was like many other adolescents in my peer-group. I enjoyed hanging out with my friends, going to the mall and the movies, and just having a good time. I loved the time that I spent with my family, having cook outs, going on vacations, celebrating birthdays and all of the other things that families do. When I was young I fell in love with sports. Because my parents were sticklers for good grades, I worked hard to maintain a high grade point average. In high school, I continued to play sports and enjoyed being a “star athlete” in both basketball and football.” says Townsend.
“Life now is very different, as I am sure that one could imagine. Before, I was a very independent person and quite accustomed to doing things on my own. Now, I have to rely on others for just about everything. There are many things that have not changed, though. I still love to go to the mall, going to the movies, and hanging out with my friends. I still love sports, and although I cannot play them I still enjoy watching games, both live and on television. Physical therapy has become a big part of my routine. The therapy keeps my body in shape, flexible, and conditioned. I am now a senior at the University of North Florida majoring in sports management” says Townsend.
Why it is important to give back
“My family and I were very blessed to have the support of our extended family, friends, and the Jacksonville community. For me and my family, giving back is a heartfelt and passionate endeavor. It is our hope that we can help others in their various circumstances and with varying disabilities, the way that we have been helped, and continue to be, by others. In addition, the joy of seeing someone receive is priceless.” says J.T. Townsend.