Battling Bruin: Kenneth

Posted June 2013

Kenneth is your average 21-year-old young adult, upbeat and fun-loving. For the past three years he’s been living paralyzed from the shoulders down.

When he was a junior in high school he decided to follow in the steps of one of his best friends, Sara Blackmore. She introduced him to the sport of cheerleading, which he quickly fell in love with. He cheered both competitively and on the Varsity squad at North Salem High School, and created a great network of friends through the cheerleading world. One of his friends, Shelley Shepard, was especially influential, and in 2009 she decided to move to Reno. Kenneth decided to move with her, and after graduating high school he moved to Reno to compete with Shelley.

Feb. 5, 2010 was tryout day for the Level 5 team he hoped to be a part of. Kenneth decided to throw one last tumbling pass and landed on his neck. He instantly knew that something was wrong when he realized that he was laying limp with no feeling below his shoulders. He was rushed to Renown Medical Center, where he learned that he broke his C4-5 vertebrae, severed his spinal cord, and would never walk or move his arms again. He spent the next six months battling breathing machines, feeding tubes, and enduring seven surgeries.

Even after he was released from the hospital, Kenneth knew he wasn’t done with cheerleading. He has spent the last three years coaching for Five Star Athletics, a program started by Tom and Shelley Shepard in 2010. He has loved working with every athlete he has ever coached.

In October, he decided that it was time to reach another goal, so he packed and moved back to Salem, Oregon to be near his family and start college. Kenneth is now a student at The Art Institute of Portland, majoring in Fashion Marketing. He is very excited to see where the next few years of his life take him.

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