I moved back down to Columbus on January 2nd of this year. For the entire year prior I spent a quarter of it in the hospital and the rest of it back home in my house in Stow near Akron, OH (the home of LeBron James). During that 1st year I was absolutely miserable and it was the lowest point of my life.
I was 5 classes from graduating when I wrecked my car and I was dead set on finishing at Ohio State. I spent months trying to figure out how I could make this dream a reality. I found a place in the Neil Avenue building (the dorm above Marketplace) that was supposedly handicap accessible. The only problem with this was that I would not have help at night. My mom did not feel comfortable with this situation.
We found out about a place called Creative Living that provided housing for people with physical disabilities. It was the middle of December before we contacted Creative Living but they happened to have an opening which is very rare. The facility is right on 10th Ave. on Ohio State University property. There is a resident assistant that is on call 24 hours a day that can help you with whatever you need with just the push of a button. This meant that I would have assistance in the middle of the night if I needed it. These one-bedroom apartments are handicap accessible and include a roll in shower. There are 2 locations on Ohio State campus and there is only one other place like this in the entire country. How lucky am I that they had a place like this at Ohio State? I had no idea…
In the facility that I live in there are 17 residents and 15 of them have spinal cord injuries. This gave me 15 people that I could relate to and 15 people that could help me with any problem concerning a spinal cord injury. This also gave me my independence back and gave me something to work towards which was finishing my degree. My aide found me on Facebook after she had read some of the notes that I had written. I’m incredibly lucky that she found me because now she is not just my aide but she is also my best friend.
Once I got back to a Ohio State I finally had purpose in my life once again. Finally I was able to smile once again because I realized what exactly I was supposed to do with this new life. Here is what I wrote shortly after moving back down to Columbus on January 11, 2012:
FINALLY A SMILE ON MY FACE
by Adam Helbling on Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 6:34pm ·
Things are finally starting to look up. It was nice to be home with my family but what I really needed was my independence. At home I learned that my family will do anything for me. I have an incredibly patient brother, a mother who would trade places with me in a second if she could, and a father who has done everything he can to make my life easier. I cannot do this alone and so many people have stepped up to make my life easier. When something like this happens to you you find out who your true friends are and just what they’re made of. You learn the importance of family. You find out just how blessed you truly are.
Before my accident life was a breeze. The world was my playground and I was on the verge of graduating and I was ready to explore everything this world has to offer. I was willing to even move away from it all and my family to explore life in other areas of the country. Maybe right now I would be in California longboarding near the ocean. Maybe I would have a job and that BMW M3 that I always slobbered over. I can say maybe all I want but now I have to dream differently. Instead of building waterski lakes and cable parks for wakeboarding maybe I’ll be making this world a better place for people with disabilities. I could see that as a possibility for me down the road. For now I want to inspire others through writing and public speaking.
I have a story that will blow your mind and everyday I keep adding to that story. I have dealt with paralysis, depression, anxiety, incredible accomplishments as well as massive failures. I’ve struggled with bipolar disorder, manic episodes, and delusions of grandeur. I dug myself out of massive credit card debt. I mean I took out a $5000 loan and bought myself a Segway. My college experience was incredibly unique. I had a great balance of work and play. In my sophomore year I completely destroyed a luxury townhouse by hosting not one, but 7 huge beer pong tournaments. Several of these included 64 team tournaments where each participant had to pay $5 just to play. I had the incredible ability of bringing people together. I loved to see my friends make new friendships because I brought them together to participate in an activity. The one thing that I enjoyed more than anything in college was coaching waterskiing. I loved to share my passion with others and try and get people more involved in the sport. I helped to transform a drinking club in the Ohio State Waterski Team into a national championship title winner over a period of 5 years. I never gave up on the waterski team even though we had so many struggles. I’ve done some crazy things in my lifetime but I would not change a thing because they have shaped me into who I am today.
Last year I faced more challenges than I had in my entire life combined. I died at the scene of my crash but God brought me back for a reason and I will not let that reason go to waste. I’ve always dreamed big and I never saw myself as the type of person that would work a 9 to 5 job. I want to work to make a difference in the lives of others. I love to make people smile and laugh. I see myself doing big things this year. The only thing I can do is make the best out of the situation and celebrate being alive. I have the opportunity to see my nephews grow up and to see my nieces go on to college. I could not imagine what things would’ve been like for the people that love me if I would’ve died in that crash. My mom would be an absolute wreck and my twin brother would no longer have his other half.
I can finally say that now that I’m back down in Columbus I’ve actually had a smile on my face for the 1st time in almost a year. I’m actually able to laugh which feels incredible. Being back home was great but I was not working towards anything and being a very goal oriented person this was torture. I miss my family immensely but I also really missed the friends that I have right here in Columbus. I have a family of friends down here and so far they have gone out of their way to accommodate me and make me part of their lives. My aide is an incredible human being. She loves to help others and has gone out of her way to make this a smooth transition back to Ohio State. My nurse can actually make me want to open my eyes at 7 AM and laugh before starting my dreaded morning routine.
There are 2 reasons that I am back in Columbus. The 1st is to finish my degree in civil engineering and entrepreneurship by completing the remaining 6 classes that I have left. The 2nd is to work to learn to walk again. The program that they have at Ohio State called locomotor training is absolutely incredible. The therapists are incredibly welcoming and they know exactly what they are doing. In just one week I have made tremendous progress and I cannot wait to see where I am 4 months from now. My professors have been incredibly accommodating. I have a van that picks me up and takes me to wherever I need to go on campus. I get extra time on exams and I even get my own notetaker for my classes. I’m a little rusty but slowly I’m getting back into the swing of things.
Today the van driver talked to me about my situation. He said that if he was in my situation he would be incredibly bitter and would not be able to take it. He told me that he can tell that I am going places in life with the positive attitude that I have despite my circumstances. I have had several people who have been extremely interested in learning why I am in this chair. I constantly find myself telling my story to random strangers. I also constantly find random strangers that are willing to help in anyway possible. Whether it be holding the door open or helping me take off my jacket in class.
The Ohio State University is a great place full of incredible people. This is the perfect place to reach out and try and help people by sharing my story. I want to show the students just how much they have and to help them live out the best college experience they can possibly have. The Ohio State University is a great place to start a book and to start spreading my message. The University is incredibly diverse and people come from all over the world. My hope is that these students will share my story with the people they know back home so that my message can spread out.
I am incredibly optimistic about my future. Maybe I will walk again or maybe I won’t. All I know is that I cannot dwell on what I cannot do. From my apartment I can look out the window and see people playing soccer, football, hockey, and basketball. It’s kind of hard to watch knowing that I may never do those things again but at the same time I think it’s good for me. I was incredibly active before my accident and if given the chance to walk and run again I would not waste a single second of my life. I would not care at all about what other people think and I would do things just because I can. I want to make other people realize that they need to take advantage of everything they can in life while they are still on this earth. No one knows what tomorrow may bring. I never thought for one second that something this horrible would ever happen to me. No one saw this coming but it happened and now I can only make the best of what I have left. I’m still alive and because of that I’m just going to keep living.