Joseph Bradley, a high school senior from Alabama, refuses to let his past determine his future.
Bradley, who survived horrific abuse at the hands of his father as a toddler, celebrated his 19th birthday before flying to Abu Dhabi for the 2019 Special Olympics World Games as a member of the United States Equestrian team.
Through tears, Bradley’s mother, Mary Bradley, watched her son win a gold medal in the English Equitation event and two bronze medals in the English Working Trails and Dressage events.
“I was crying tears like a baby — full of joy,” Mary Bradley told the Montgomery Advertiser. “He accomplished what he said he was coming to do.”
— Jason Davenport (@jdavenport36108) March 19, 2019
Bradley started riding horses in 2011 at Montgomery’s Therapeutic Recreation Center in Alabama.
The boy’s accomplishments are incredible, as he lives daily with paralysis on his right side, permanent brain damage and loss of sight in one eye.
When Bradley was just 2 years old, a weekend stay with his father landed the boy in the hospital with third-degree burns and a blood clot on his brain.
The helpless toddler had been beaten over the head by his father, dunked in scalding water and hit in the groin.
“At the hospital, they told me to prepare for his funeral,” Mary Bradley told The National.
New discipline at the @SpecialOlympics Equestrian event ?? Riders performing a dance during a break ???? Good fun and happy riders ? Equestrian breakdance truly shows me the heart and soul of the @WorldGamesAD #MeetTheDetermined #parasportdanmark @DIFidraet pic.twitter.com/QlNvZZpxr3
— Hans Natorp (@hnatorp) March 17, 2019
Doctors told Mary Bradley that if her son lived, he would be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.
Bradley’s father is currently in prison for first-degree assault. His parole was denied in 2018, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
Today, the smiling, determined teenager still lives with seizures and bears the mark of skin grafts on his body because of the burns.
But he mounts his horse, enjoys the ride and looks forward to his future.
“He’s my miracle,” Mary Bradley said. “I would never have expected this.”
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