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Finding Freedom

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June 10, 2019 | By Matt Taylor

Matt Taylor Photo

I will never forget the date. It was August 13, 2011.

I woke up that Saturday morning in the Intensive Care Unit at the University of Maryland’s Medical Center. I was told that I had a diving accident. I did not yet realize my entire life was about to change.

The doctor came in to deliver shocking news. He told my parents that with a broken neck, I would never walk again. His advice to them was to find me a good nursing facility. I was 23 years old.

After two months of therapy, I regained substantial arm function, although my hands, along with the muscles from my chest down, remained completely paralyzed. When it was time to go home, I had no idea how I was going to live a productive life.

The doctor’s words kept running through my head: “…a good nursing facility.” I wanted more for my life. So did my parents. Their research had discovered a Center for Independent Living that empowers people with disabilities. It’s called Transitional Paths to Independent Living (TRPIL).

TRPIL helped me obtain services that support me in my home rather than in an institution. Now, I have the power to make decisions about my life and my future. Simply put, I am free.

Today, I work five days a week as TRPIL’s Membership Director. I visit local rehabilitation centers and provide peer support to people with newly acquired disabilities. I let them know that there are services that will keep them out of nursing facilities. I drive, I go out with friends, and I travel the country playing wheelchair rugby. Most importantly, I live an active life and help others to do the same. 

My story is just one among many stories of people who find a way forward through TRPIL. I have learned to live a different way, and in doing so, I have found freedom. 

Photo: Matt engaging in a game of wheelchair rugby with Bubba at his side.