“I made a stupid mistake.”  Those words echoed through the gymnasium of Eudora High School on Tuesday.  Joe White is the one who made that admission in front of the student body.  Joe is a former resident of Eudora and for several years now, has lived in Topeka.

On September 29, 2006, Joe, along with three buddies got drunk and decided to film a stunt from the movie “Jackass Number Two” that they had watched the night before.  Joe jumped out of a moving car traveling at 35 mph.  Unfortunately, Joe did not have the results he was hoping for. Instead of landing in the grass on the side of the road, Joe’s head hit the curb.  Joe suffered major brain injuries and came very close to dying.

“Doctors didn’t expect Joe to make it through the night” according to Rose House, Joe’s mother.  “We were all at the hospital and doctors were talking about organ donation and prepared us for the worst.”

Joe, in amazement to doctors and family, pulled through the night and through the days that followed. Joe spent several months in the hospital and rehab.  He is paralyzed on his right side and the brain damage suffered in the accident has impaired his thought process and speech.   Joe has been in physical therapy and speech rehabilitation, and will for a long time to come. Joe credits his survival and recovery to his faith in God.

Joe was determined not to let his disabilities stop him.  Two years ago, Joe decided that his calling was to talk to students about his accident, what effects the stunt he attempted has caused and the tragedies that come from drinking too much. “Old Joe: drinking, partying all the time. All right. Woo hoo”. “New Joe:  Family, friends, I love it. More talking and laughing”.

Joe now travels around Kansas appearing at schools and events. “I want to tell people what I did so they don’t make the same mistakes.”  “Control yourself and celebrate safe.”

Joe has an assistant, Kak Eli-Schneider, a transition specialist for the Washburn Rural School District who assists Joe in his presentations.  “Joe’s an amazing kid. He’s very loving and caring.”

One of the special parts of giving this presentation in Eudora was that his grandparents Tom and Alberta Pyle got to see the full presentation for the first time. “He’s come such a long way” Tom said. “If this presentation can save just one life, it’s all been worth it.”

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2 Responses to Never Give Up

  • Great article John. This is a great story on how drinking and driving can significantly change your life – this kid is super lucky to have even survived.

  • John, thanks for the article.
    I work at the school, and I know many of the students and staff members were inspired by what Joe had to say. His presentation was the talk of the day. I’m so glad he was able to visit our school. Keep up the good work, Joe!