Oregon Teen Paralyzed After Crash Returns To Track Competition As Para-athlete

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Photo credit: Anna Reed / Oregon Live

A car crash left Oregon teen, Owen Baker, paralyzed from the waist down. Baker, a junior at Willamina High School Oregon spent 2 weeks in the trauma unit at OHSU hospital in Portland where he underwent surgery. This was followed by intensive physical therapy at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel.

He was headed for a fishing expedition to Nestucca with two friends. Baker, who was wearing a seat belt suffered serious injuries after their car rolled over. It also plunged down what he describes as ‘a 35-foot embankment’ in slippery conditions.

There have been dark days for Baker. Thoughts of ‘why me?’ are replaced with ‘not thinking about the bad stuff,’ says Baker. His positivity is centered on what didn’t happen; he has an intact spinal cord. Baker has regained some feeling in both legs and hopes that someday he will walk again.

“I can move my left leg a little bit,” Baker says. “I can feel about my ankle. My right leg will be a little left behind, although I can still feel some stuff.”

Being in a wheelchair has been a life-changing experience for him. In spite of this, Baker does not let the circumstance define him. He has returned to the track as a para-athlete using a racing chair to compete in the 100-meter dash, 400 and 1,500. He has also learned to throw the shot put from his wheelchair with some coaching from the junior shot putter, Andrew Kennedy. Kennedy was also a passenger in the crash, he and Baker have been friends since second grade. Kennedy admires the way his friend handled himself after the crash and throughout his recovery. He said this of Baker:

“Just the way he’s taken the idea will be just amazing. Even during the accident he was still calm, kept his composure. I know if I were him I’d be crying like a baby. The idea actually will be inspirational.”

According to his mother, Mandy Jahn, Baker is more outgoing. “He was a little shy before and I think this has helped him draw out a little bit. It is altering his personality but in a really good way for him to come out of his shell. He has really used it in a positive way.” Jahn told Oregon Live.

Being confined to a wheelchair does not stop Baker from living it to the fullest. He enjoys life despite his circumstance. This is motivation enough for us to embrace the joys of life despite the problems we might be facing. Every one of us should borrow a leaf form Owen Baker. #Rewordit

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