Benefit for car accident victim set for this weekend at church
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 5, 2013 1:46 PM
Bound to a wheelchair, Jerimiah Waddell has limited mobility but has made strides to get his life back to normal.
A local church is holding a fundraiser this weekend to help a young man get some of his independence back.
Jerimiah Waddell was not one to ask for help.
But that was before the Christmas Eve accident in 2011.
After a night of drinking at a family party, he ignored efforts to prevent him from driving himself home.
"I had just got a truck, a truck I'd been wanting for years," he said. "I didn't want nobody driving it but me. It was late. I thought I could do it."
He left his sister's house in Sleepy Creek near Dudley, but only made it about a mile down the road. He flipped the truck and was ejected.
He was taken to Wayne Memorial Hospital, then airlifted to Vidant in Greenville. There, he was diagnosed with a broken neck and right femur bone. He underwent 13 hours of surgery.
When he awoke again New Year's Day, the crushing blow came.
"They told me I'd been in a car wreck and I was going to be handicapped, paralyzed from the chest down," he said.
"I accepted it right then at that moment. I knew I was by myself. I knew I was being arrogant. I wouldn't let anybody drive me. It was just a one-car accident, by myself. I didn't have nobody to blame but me."
Hospitalized until March 13, 2012, he has since undergone some rehabilitation services, relied on a wheelchair and worked to adapt to his new, immobile, life.
"My legs still move. I have still got a lot of movement in my legs but can't control it," he said. "I have no feeling from my chest down, but I have a lot of movement. I can't use my hands, but I use my wrists. I'm considered a quadriplegic because I don't have use of my hands.
Once an avid hunter and fisherman, it is the one thing he has able to resume.
"Last year I started deer hunting," he said. "I killed two deer last year ... an eight-pointer, the first deer I hunted."
But the hardest part, he says, is contemplating the future -- "not knowing if I'm going to have somebody to help when I need it."
Things began to look up a bit when he befriended Pam and Phil Mozingo while attending a handicapped sportsman's event in Burgaw.
"They invited me to go to church with them," he said. "That Sunday, they came and picked me up and I have been going ever since.
"It's like my family. It's like a new family. Before I was hurt, I knew God, but I didn't know Him as my Lord and savior as I do now."
Next week a fundraiser is planned in hopes of sending him to a rehabilitation program similar to the one the Mozingo's daughter attended.
Lisa Mozingo, then a senior at Spring Creek High School, was in a car accident in May 2009, just weeks shy of graduation. She benefited from the day program at Shepherd Center Spinal Cord Rehab in Atlanta. Mrs. Mozingo said she would like Waddell to have access to such services.
"He needs to release his potential," she said.
He says he has chosen not to be angry, with himself for making a poor choice that Christmas Eve night, or with God.
"That's what I have got out of this wreck," he said, quietly. "I have come to know Jesus. Some people ask, 'Do you wish you never got hurt?' I tell them, actually, no, because I don't think I would ever let God lead me through life like I do now.
"I wouldn't take my legs back for me to be able to walk and not know (God). I would rather know Him and be hurt than not know Him and not be hurt."
The barbecue chicken sale at Zion United Methodist Church will be held Saturday in the fellowship hall starting at 4 p.m. Plates will be sold for $7 each, eat in or take-out.
Donations also will be accepted, with checks made out to the church and earmarked on the memo line for Jeremiah. Mailing address is: c/o Zion UMC, 1955 Zion Church Road, Mount Olive, NC 28365. For more information, call 252-560-9357.