UT student hopes for new ride after accident left him paralyzed - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

UT student hopes for new ride after accident left him paralyzed

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TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

A University of Texas – Tyler student  is hoping for a change in his path and is asking for the community’s help.

Garrett Wiley was in a car accident in 2008 that accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. At the time, he was a high school senior, with a bright future playing football for Hardin-Simmons University in West Texas ahead of him. He survived, but life has been much different ever since.

“I was All-State in football,” he remembers. His friend, Trevor Stennett, who plays baseball for Texas College, remembers how he excelled at the sport, too.

“He was an excellent football player. We get outside and toss the rock sometimes,” Stennett said.

Wiley is still playing football, though his form has changed a bit.

Wiley and Stennett bonded over their love of sports and the outdoors. Wiley’s favorites are hunting and fishing, but his standard wheelchair has made him reliant on his friends.“I’d have to have my buddy pop me in a wheelie and try our best to get through the dirt and the mud and all that,” Wiley said.

“With these wheels there’s no traction,” he adds as he pointed to the mangled tires on his wheelchair.

A new kind of wheelchair would make it possible for the 23-year-old to go off-roading.

“Be outdoors and have fun, and do all the things that I like about the outdoors, without relying on somebody to help me navigate through the outdoors,” he said.

It’s the money that’s standing in his way.

Wiley’s mother and grandmother died of cancer within a few years of his accident, leaving him and his brother to tackle medical costs on their own.

“My mom and my grandma were basically the ones that took care of everything,” he said.

“He’s a hard working, motivated individual and he definitely motivates me, because I play baseball, he motivates me to go out there and take advantage of every single day that I have on the field,” Stennett said.

“[I] try and keep my mindset on a goal and then focus on getting that goal because, I mean, [my mother and grandmother] raised me to be a strong person,” he said.

And right now that goal is a new wheelchair.

“Things are going to occur, to I guess, speed bumps in life, and it’s how you handle those speed bumps,” he said.

So, no matter what the terrain ahead may be, he can ride those speed bumps just a little smoother.

That wheelchair costs about $9,000. If you would like to donate to help Garret buy a new set of wheels, click here.

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