I woke up Sunday morning, October 18, 1981, ready to spend the day at the beach. I never would have realized that day would change the rest of my life. There was a storm the day before generating 6 to 9-foot waves, a young surfer’s dream. While body surfing I spotted the largest wave in an incoming set and waited patiently for the perfect ride. Catching the wave, I realized too late that this 8-foot wave was going to break in less than a foot of water. The wave threw me into the compacted sand, fracturing the C7 vertebrae in my neck.
After 8 months of physical rehabilitation, I was sent home in a wheel chair and have been in one ever since. I lost a year of high school and knew I had to rebuild my life from square one. Taking classes in the hospital and throughout the summer, I was able to graduate just one semester late.
At this point, it was clear that my future depended on education and determination. I chose to pursue a law degree at the University of Florida College of Law, graduating in December 1991. The next test for me finding out whether my disability would hinder my courtroom presence. I soon realized that the only obstacle in my way was to stand when the judge entered the courtroom. Hard work, preparation and a positive attitude put me on a level playing field. It was at this moment, I knew the key to my success was in my heart and mind, not my legs.
Sixteen years into my career I have achieved an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating a lawyer can achieve. I now represent small business owners sued in Federal Court under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Using my legal knowledge and extensive courtroom experience, combined with my personal experiences, I can effectively bring the small business into compliance with Federal law while avoiding unnecessary litigation.
Based on the outlook I was given by the doctors and therapists at 16-years-old, my future looked dismal. With the support of my faith, family and friends I have proven to myself and countless others that physical limitations can be overcome by hard work, determination and perseverance.
Article by Brad Conway