40 Years Strong
Friendly Wheels, Issue 92
A Place for Hope with Amigo Owner James Shepherd
James Shepherd, a proud Amigo owner, understands first hand the long road to recovery after serious injury.
James and his family have dedicated most of their lives to building a place made for more than just recovery; where people with disabilities can receive more than medical care. Above all, James and his family have founded a place that brings hope.
After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1973, James began a backpacking trip around the world. While body surfing off the coast of Rio de Janiero, James struck the bottom of the ocean, injuring his spinal cord. The accident left him paralyzed from the neck down at 22 years old.
James spent five weeks in a Brazilian hospital before returning to the United States. Wanting the best for their son, the Shepherd searched for a rehabilitiation treatment facilities not only in Georgia, but in the entire southeast corner of the country.
Fortunately, the Shepherd family found a facility in Colorado specializing in spinal cord injury. After six months of rehab and hard work, James regained the ability to walk with a cane and assisted leg brace.
After returning to Gergia, the Shepherds made it their mission to create a rehabilitation center for others like James. With the help of friends and the support of David Webb, Chairman of President Carter’s White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals, the Shepherd Center was founded in 1975 as a six-bed rehab facility.
40 years later, the Shepherd center is now a 152 bed facility where over 9,000 patients were seen last year alone between Shepherd’s inpatient and outpatient programs.
Through the pursuit of a dream, James transformed his experience in Brazil into a place where hope still continues to live.
It is truly amazing to see how far James and his family have taken the Shepherd Center in just 40 years. We couldn’t be more proud of the work James is doing and to have him as part of the Amigo family.