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Teen Paralyzed from Neck Down in Wrestling Match Mouths His First Words to Mom and Dad

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As the Turkish proverb says, “a defeated wrestler never tires of wrestling again.” After suffering a devastating wrestling injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down, 16-year-old Ryan Joseph is gearing up for the wrestling match of his life.

On Jan. 10, the College Park High School sophomore went down during a JV wrestling match, and couldn’t get up.

An ambulance whisked him away to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury.



In an instant, Ryan’s life was forever changed. He reclined in a hospital bed, unable to breathe on his own, using only his eyes to communicate.

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While Ryan certainly has a long road ahead of him, he took a big step forward after undergoing a successful tracheotomy.

For the first time in about a week, Ryan was able to communicate verbally after the surgery.

The teen looked his parents, Tom and Kristin Joseph in the eye, and mouthed the words, “I love you.” The moment must have been emotional for Ryan’s parents, though the saying goes “the only thing tougher than a wrestler is his mom.”



Fundraising efforts are now underway for the family, who likely have some hefty medical bills ahead.

A GoFundMe has been started in an effort to raise enough money to cover the astronomical costs of ongoing rehab and home accessibility.

Ryan is described as having a terrific sense of humor combined with a genuinely kind character.

“Ryan is well known by friends, teachers and coaches for his charm, exceptional wit and humor,” his GoFundMe page reads.



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The school’s athletic coach, Jim Keck, visited Ryan’s parents at the hospital. “The first thing that Tom said when I saw him at the hospital, I saw him Saturday, when this was really, really, really fresh, was, ‘I’ve got a son,'” Keck recalled.

“His brain is in perfect working condition, he’s still joking with us,” Ryan’s father continued. That sense of humor, Keck predicted, is what will see the Joseph family through this time of uncertainty.

Meanwhile, the school and athletic community are rallying around Ryan, sending cards and well-wishes his way.

His parents are connecting with other Bay Area families who have been through similar circumstances, including football player Jake Javier, who was also paralyzed in an accident.

The Joseph family is thankful for the outpouring of support from both the local community and even from strangers around the country. While the road ahead is uncertain, Ryan still has the heart of a wrestler — and wrestlers don’t give up.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
Birthplace
Page, Arizona
Education
Bachelor of Science in Music Education
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Lifestyle & Human Interest




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