My name is Curtis Childers, and I graduated high school in 1992, so almost 20 years ago. I was Valedictorian when I graduated, and I served as the Texas FFA President in 1992-93, then the National FFA President in 1993-94. I went to Texas A&M University and majored in Agricultural Development. In 1997 I ran for, and was elected as, the Student Body President of Texas A&M University.
I worked for computer companies doing testing and training for software products. I had really good jobs, and I was making good money – over $100,000 per year. I lived and worked in Los Angeles, California for almost 10 years.
After FFA, I didn’t handle life’s challenges that well. There was a dark side to the way I dealt with problems. I didn’t like to deal face-to-face with challenges, so I would “hide” from them. This type of behavior started in college. I would drink to hide from problems, and eventually I would use substances to hide from challenges. I want to discourage ANY kind of use – drinking or drugs – in other people. Although I got to escape the challenges, I did not deal with them, and so they continued to be there – getting larger and larger.
The year after I was Student Body President, I turned my drug use into a larger part of my life. Even though I had good jobs, I still liked to hide behind with drug abuse. It’s not fun to admit, but I feel like if I share my story that maybe others will not take a chance like I did.
As a mid 20 adult while living in Los Angeles.
Here I am with my girlfriend Elaine, who has stood by me through this great challenge of my life.
On June 24 of 2008, I had a terrible accident. It was an accident whereby most humans do not even live through it. I fell over 30 feet and I landed on asphalt – head first. That was about 2 ½ years ago. It has been a very traumatic recovery since then; it has taken almost all of this time. I’m just now starting to look into what to do for work.
I was in Los Angeles hospitals for months. I was at UCLA Hospital from June 24th to July 20th of 2008. I went into French Park Care Facility from July 21st – September 12th of 2008. I was still in a coma at the start of it, and when I awoke from the coma, I had to relearn life. The doctors said, “Curtis, how old are you, and where are you?” I said, “Well, I am 25 and I’m somewhere near A&M in Texas.” They said, “No, Curtis, you’re actually 35 and you're in Los Angeles, California.” Then, the doctors said, “Curtis, do you know who those five women standing right here are?” I said, “Well, I know that one sister of mine – that’s Renee. But I don’t know the others.” The doctors said, “That’s good, Curtis, that is your sister Renee. The other four women – that you don’t recognize – are your mother, Elaine your girlfriend, and your other two sisters, Tammy and Sarah.”
Me and my sister Sarah. She is trying to teach me family history.
I was still not speaking, but my girlfriend, Elaine, was trying to re-associate with me.
Here, my sister, Renee, is introducing me to our nephew, Seth.
I’m not yet able to walk, and speaking is still a challenge for me, but here I am with my three sisters and my mother.
Here I am at a treatment facility in Los Angeles, French Park Care Facility with my girlfriend Elaine. I’m still in a wheelchair
My right arm did not yet move on it’s own, so a physical therapist is trying to teach me how to do that.
I’m also here with my nephew, Bo, and my girlfriend, Elaine
Here, the physical therapists are trying to get me to learn how to move my legs, so that I can walk. I
had the strength, but I did not know how to balance yet.
Here I am with a therapist. They wouldn’t feed me chewable food yet because they were afraid that I didn’t know how to swallow.
Once I left the hospitals, we went out to eat at Chipotle.
Once I got back to Texas, I was learning how to play guitar with my family.
Now, this has been a very intense learning experience for me. What I learned in FFA came into much needed use, BIG TIME, through this experience. When I first started to walk, it was only one block at a time, then I had to go back to the house to rest. My sister Tammy would walk with me daily, sometimes twice a day, so that I could relearn that basic skill.
And, I’m so thankful for what I learned in FFA to get me through this. Now, the truth is I was inclined to ignore problems, and thus I escaped through alcohol and drugs, but this situation taught me to face things head on, and because of what I learned in FFA, I was able to do it.
Now, it’s been almost 2 ½ years since I’ve used ANY substance whatsoever. That’s a long break for someone who had a problem with it, and because of FFA, I was able to learn how to deal with things face-to-face.
Look at these next two photos. That’s one of me requiring a wheelchair, and then there is one from last month where I finished a 5k race. I RAN a 5k race! And why? Because of what I learned in FFA about overcoming challenges.