Topeka man uses second chance at life to save as many lives as possible

Someone You Should Know

A bad decision 12 years ago changed a Topeka man’s life forever, but now he’s using his tragedy to change lives.

In September 2006, Joe White was a normal, rowdy 18-year-old. He was in his senior year at Washburn Rural High School, when he and a few buddies decided to skip the homecoming dance to drive around and drink instead.

Joe had recently seen the movie Jackass 2, that’s filled with dangerous stunts. That fateful night that changed his life, he decided he was going to re-enact one of the stunts.

“I jumped from a moving car at 30, or 35 per hour,” he said.

Joe sustained a brain injury so severe that he was paralyzed on one side of his body.

“Since then I have slowly recovered, but every day is a struggle,” he said.

He lost the ability to walk and talk, and went through years of therapy to gain his independence back. Now 29-years-old, Joe is using his story to influence high school students.

“I made a stupid mistake, don’t end up like me,” Joe said.

By Joe’s side at every speech he gives, is his dad, Bob White. We asked him during our interview if he can believe its been 12 years since this journey started.

“I can’t because every time we do a speech, it seems like it just happened,” Bob said.

Bob admits watching Joe’s speeches is both rewarding, and hard for him.

“He was just like all these other kids out in the audience that he’s talking to,” Bob said. “So its hard to swallow sometimes, but he does a good job.”

Joe holds nothing back his in his speeches, he even talks about the time he tried committing suicide in front of his dad.

“You know that’s just something that will never go away with me,” Bob said.

It’s a heartbreaking and emotional message, but just maybe it will resonate with the students he speaks to. And maybe one of them will decide not to drink underage, or make a decision they’ll regret for the rest of their lives.

For booking Joe White contact JoeWhiteMyStory@yahoo.com

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