He had a rough start to life, born with a disability that made even just walking a challenge. Through different procedures and lots of support from family and friends, he overcame though, and incredibly went on to play sports, although he still experienced a good deal of pain from time to time. As he got older, his love for baseball and football grew tremendously, despite many injuries, and he became very serious about a career in football. He was accepted onto the NSU Riverhawks football team and was off to an impressive start. He was crushed when his dreams for the future had to change.
Sports are a ton of fun, and if you have any bit of a competitive bone in your body, sports feeds it like crazy, but for all the fun and games, people get hurt all the time. In fact, a whopping 90% of college athletes report being injured during a game or practice, and 24% of competitive athletes are forced to retire after a career-ending injury. After a severe neck injury shattered his dreams of playing professionally, Billy unfortunately became another sports injury statistic. It was a devastating blow.
On top of the constant pain he already faced from his disability, and the pain from other injuries causing arthritis and swelling and a slue of other symptoms, he wasn’t sure where to go from there. He continued going to school, got a job, and did his best to move on. After 6 months, he decided to drop out of school, and focus on working full time instead. At his job, he developed new friendships, maybe not the smartest friendships he realized later, but it was a distraction from the physical and emotional pain of what he was going through. The more he hung out with them, the further he seemed to stray off the straight and narrow path he had been on. He started drinking and then got into drugs, although he was still at functioning level. After dropping out of school, he moved back to Muskogee, closer to work, and tried to tackle life on his own. It wasn’t long before he went from bachelor life to steady relationship, but this girl wasn’t the best influence on him either.
She was a drug user, and heavy into her addiction, she caused trouble for him eventually getting him evicted from their apartment. They broke up, and he was back to life on his own, but he was really struggling with the housing part. Because of the pain, he couldn’t work, and he ended up on disability. He bounced from apartment to apartment, but the debt he was building for himself was dragging him down hard. He had some fines that needed taken care of, hospital bills, student loans, and it was getting harder and harder to keep up with the daily bills and pay for these. Eventually, the bottom fell out, and he found himself without a home, and he came to Gospel Rescue Mission.
Since being here, Billy has proven himself to be an incredible asset, doing well in all areas of our Work Start Training Program. He is working on paying off his debt so that he can be more stable when he leaves here and working on a plan for his pain. He hopes to one day have a family and be able to live life to the fullest, despite his disabilities. He’s learning more about God and more about himself and what he’s really capable of. We are excited to watch him continuing to grow!