This is the story of a young man named Jake. Watch and see how his family allowed God to work in their lives even in the midst of tragedy. You may want to get a tissue ready…
Lately I’ve been posting things other than just my journey to becoming more fit. One topic you’ll continue to see me post about is the amazing story of my friend Billy Wilkerson. Just to recap his story, he and a friend were hit by a drunk driver on July 31,2011 and he spent over a week in a coma. Billy has had over 9 surgeries since the accident and suffered severe brain trauma. The fact that he is alive is a miracle in itself, much less his ability to walk and talk. Below are two videos that show off his talent. The first is a history of The Brother Bright which is Billy and fellow artist Nick Kirk. They have been doing music together for over 15 years. The second video is one of my favorites they have written.
This video was recorded a few months before the accident and shows you what amazing artists he and Nick Kirk are.
I stole this from a fellow firefighter.
“Always live to your full potential” is a message many of us have heard throughout our lives. Some of us are doing that, and other are failing miserably. I think in the fire service we have a chronic problem with NOT living to our full potential. For many of us we have wanted to be firemen for years, and we have tried to get hired for years. We go through rookie school, serve our probationary time, and then we get accustomed to the shift work, and then we just….stop. Stop training. Stop learning. We attend the required trainings, or classes, but we have zero self motivation to learn or to be the best. When our jobs and careers depend on our ability to perform and be the best, we cannot afford to be mediocre.
As we gain seniority we are at the most risk of injury or a foolish mistake…
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On January 30th, this world lost a great man as Dr. Douglas Applewhite passed away. Dr. A (as most of his students called him) was not only a professor of mine at St. John’s River Community College, but also a fellow motorcycle rider and a great mentor. He was an Anatomy & Physiology professor and had an amazing ability to take difficult information and turn it into something easy. He would always tell us not to take notes and just to participate in the discussions as he would make these crazy drawings all over the whiteboard. Dr. A’s classes were so popular they would fill up on the first day of registration and if you didn’t get in that day you would have to hope someone dropped the class so you could pick it up on drop/add day. He always insisted that I call him “Doug” and not Dr. and I would tell him that he worked hard and earned the right to be called Dr.
I feel honored that he actully came to me for advice on several occasions. When I attended SJRCC I was also working at a local motorcycle shop that Dr. A frequented. I remember one afternoon before class started we had a long discussion about him wanting to trade in his Yamaha motorcycle for a newer one, but a Kawasaki. His concern was switching brands because he had owned his Yamaha for so long. Then there were questions about reliabilty, warranty, parts, you name it and he probably had a question about it. This same conversation occured for the next two weeks before he finally decided to get the new bike. I’m pretty sure I was not at work the day he bought it, so I didn’t know until I showed up to class and he just had this giant, goofy grin on his face. When I saw that grin, I knew at that moment that he finally “bit the bullet” and got the new bike.
Doug, you were one of the most unselfish men this world has ever known and you will be terribly missed. I know you’re in a better place now and on an incredible adventure.
I’ll leave you with a quote from his office door that describes his personallity perfectly.
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”
This is Doug’s obituary:
Dr. Douglas “Papi” Applewhite Sr., 63, of St. Augustine, died on Jan. 30, 2012, at the Bailey Family Center for Caring in the company of his three sons that he loved so much. Dr. Applewhite was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. He graduated from medical school at the Universidad Central de Venezuela in the late 1970s. Later in life he moved to Houston, Texas, and served as professor of neurosurgery at the University of Texas. In the early 1980s he completed a fellowship in microvascular neurosurgery in Chicago and then returned to Houston to complete a fellowship in head and spine trauma. From the mid 1980s until the turn of the century, Dr. Applewhite had a private practice in Venezuela and in West Virginia. Extremely talented and highly skilled, Dr. Applewhite was very sought after as a surgeon, and successfully treated patients from around the globe, many times taking cases no other surgeons would even consider. In 2000, he “hung up the stethoscope”, moved to St. Augustine and returned to his true love: teaching and living a salty, humble life. He briefly served as professor of anatomy and physiology at FCCJ before moving on to St. Johns River State College where his love for academia really flourished. He remained passionately attached to the college until his final days. Dr. Applewhite had an adventurous spirit and enjoyed cross country trips on his motorcycle and spending time with his family.
He is survived by his sons, Douglas “Happy” Applewhite Jr. and his wife Christine, of St. Augustine, Anthony “Tony” Applewhite and Andres “Andy” Applewhite, both of Caracas; sisters, Frances Maman of Caracas, Eileen Applewhite of Germany, Lucy Bourne of West Virginia; brothers, Virgil “Butchi” Applewhite, John Applewhite and William “Billy” Applewhite, all of Caracas; grandchildren, Isabella Marie Applewhite and Sullivan Antoni Applewhite, both of St. Augustine.
A celebration of Dr. Applewhite”s life will be held this Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, at 6 p.m. on the campus of St. Johns River State College in St. Augustine. In lieu of flowers, donations in Dr. Applewhite”s memory may be made to a memorial fund for the establishment of a monument at the campus of St. Johns River State College. Checks written to St. Johns Family Funeral Home, memo: Dr. Doug Applewhite Memorial Fund can be mailed to: 385 State Road 207, St. Augustine, FL 32084.
Let”s honor Dr. Applewhite”s philosophy, no black or formal attire and please bring your celebratory mood.
I’m taking time away from my normal #killfatty posts to share the story of my friend Billy and his amazing road to recovery.
- On July 31, 2011, Billy Wilkerson along with best friend Ron Bailey, Jr. were struck by a drunk driver in Decatur, GA. Both were hospitalized with Severe Traumatic Brain damage. Billy was in a coma forover a week. Ron remains in a coma to this day. Billy has undergone over nine surgeries, ranging from facial reconstruction to tracheostomy.
- After 16 days in the ICU at Grady Memorial Hospital, Billy was transferred to the Shepherd Center for rehabilitation where he remained for four weeks. After an miraculous recovery, Billy was able to go home. Family and friends feared Billy may have lost his ability to write and sing due to the traumatic brain injury and tracheostomy, but with the encouragement of his wife, Jill Wilkerson, Billy called Nick Kirk to try. In December 2011,just months after his nearly life-ending accident, Billy and Nick wrote the song Around The Bend. Billy recorded all the vocals with his tracheostomy tube still installed. The song is featured on Jack and The Dustbowl and is on sale on iTunes.
- Billy had his last surgery on January 19th, 2012 and will soon have his tracheostomy tube removed. Currently, the Wilkerson family is nearly a million dollars in medical debt. Billy hopes that his story can encourage 1 million people to buy “Around the Bend” by the Brothers Bright on iTunes.
You can follow Billy on Twitter (@billywilkerson).
I will never forget where I was on the morning of September 11, 2001. I had gotten home from work late in the morning and turned on the tv when I woke up. I don’t remember exactly what show I was watching, but it was interrupted with the horrific news that a plane had crashed into the north tower. As I sat in my living room I couldn’t believe what I was watching. I called my friend Cara and asked her if she was witnessing the same thing, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. On that day the lives of everyone in this nation were changed.
Fast forward 10 years to today. I am so honored to be employed as a firefighter, especially on this day of remembrance for the 343 FDNY brothers that were lost. When everyone was running away from this disaster, the firefighters were running into it. They paid the ultimate sacrifice in an attempt to save innocent lives and we will never forget them.
Thanks again to the STD staff for putting on another amazing weekend. This weekend wouldn’t have been possible for me without my brother Mitchell. My bike has been down and he let me ride his Hypermotard all weekend.
Thanks for all the Control Riders for helping us improve on our skills. I’ve gotta say thanks to Gabe for following me for a while and then towing me around for a bit. I also learned a lot from tailing Sean for a few laps.
I had a great time in Intermediate this weekend and felt more comfortable on the Hyper than I did on my 748.