By Marina Andalon
Daily Press Staff Writer
It has been seven years since a tragic injury took place on the Santa Monica High School football field.
On Sept. 11, 2009 Cody Williams step foot on the field as a junior playing on the Varsity team for the Vikings. He went in to tackle the quarterback and hit the hip of the quarterback, and fell to the ground.
“I remember that night, standing and waiting for Cody to get back up but he didn’t. I ran onto the field and automatically was told not to touch him,” said Mother, Stacy Williams. “Waiting to take him off the field, I laid on the field next to him and I remember he said, ‘Mom why can’t I move’, that’s when I knew something terrible had happened.”
He was instantly paralyzed and rushed to UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center. He broke his neck at the C5 level.
A person with a C5 injury has done damage to the nerves that control arms, hands, along with their lower body. Likely to have some or total paralysis of wrists, hands, trunk, and legs.
Williams endured a 9-hour surgery and spent one month in the ICU, hooked up to a breathing tube. He was later transferred to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He was then told he would never walk again.
Determined, motivated and driven he made sure to get as much rehabilitation as possible. He has done public speaking and made a couple appearances at various events that bring awareness to paralysis.
Seven years later, and now 23 years old, he is more determined than ever to stand and walk.
“The places he was going for rehabilitation were great, but they weren’t challenging him. Then I found out that Project Walk was coming to Santa Monica and we were both so excited,” said Stacy.
Project Walk is an activity based recovery center and continues to treat people living with paralysis for nearly two decades. Project Walk Los Angeles is located on 6th and Colorado and this new Santa Monica business already has an estimated 40 clients.
“Each person is different when it comes to their recovery time,” said Jeff Lefkovitz, Facility Coordinator and Certified Neurological Recovery Specialist.
Lefkovitz has been seeing Williams since Aug, and since then Williams has been able to regain strength in the knees, allowing him to stand and walk with assistance.
Williams was the second client at Project Walk to complete the 100 squat challenge.
“Cody really pushes himself every time he is here, and we always enjoy working with him,” said Lefkovitz.
“Since Cody has been coming here, there has been some sort of spark. He has been working so hard, and these guys here at Project Walk are so good, and know what they are doing. They have challenged him and it is making Cody so much stronger.”
So what is next for Cody?
“Right now, this is a full time job for me,” said Williams. “I am just waiting for the right opportunity, whether that includes writing a book, another Ted Talk, or helping out on the football field, who knows.”