As a grief counselor, Dr. Gladys Johnson has dedicated her life to helping people in times of crisis.

But on March 17, she found herself in a crisis of her own.

“I felt very weak on my right side, my hand didn’t work very well and I couldn’t walk well,” she said. “So I drove myself to the hospital and waited in the emergency room for 45 minutes.

“I should have just called an ambulance,” she adds with a laugh. “But at that point, I didn’t know if it was a stroke or what.”

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FLOWOOD: The Wilson Research Foundation at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson will host its fourth annual Walk and Roll on Saturday, April 6 at 10 a.m. at the center’s east campus at One Layfair Drive in Flowood. The event honors past and present patients, current residents and raises funds for the Foundation to help discover ways to recover more abilities after a stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury or loss of limb.

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As he sat slumped on his living room floor, unable to walk or speak clearly, Jeff Newman knew it was time for a turnaround. A stroke had paralyzed his right side, and the father of three realized his unhealthy habits were to blame.

“I had been over 300 pounds for probably 10 years, and I had tried to lose weight before,” said the 49-year-old owner of Newman’s Pawn Shop in Hazlehurst. “But I wasn’t dedicated. I finally said: ‘I’ll just die happy.’

“But when my stroke happened, I said: ‘Lord, if you’ll give me a chance, I’ll do what I’m supposed to do.’”

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Methodist Rehabilitation Center physical therapist Susan Geiger recently lent her expertise to a team of middle school students who took top honors at a state competition.

The team is the Techno Warriors, a group of Rankin County-area home schooled students ages 10-14. The team competed in the FIRST Lego League, which tasks students with solving engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots.

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After Sam Lane Jr. of Jackson suffered a severe brain injury, family friend Katy Houston hatched a plan to “feed him back to health.”

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Its burgundy cover is battered, and handwritten notes fill the margins of its well-worn pages.

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London was the first taste of the sheer magnitude of the Paralympics for Methodist Rehab wheelchair fencers Ryan Estep and Joey Brinson.
And now they’re both counting the days until the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“It was a blast just to be there,” Brinson said.  “It made me feel like all the work I had put in was worth it, just to make it there and be able to compete. And it really made me want to get ready for the next one. I’m ready now. I wish we could go do it right now.”

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Mendenhall High School senior Michael Shelby, like others in the graduating class of 2012, walked across the school’s football field to receive his diploma on the night of May 14.

Granted, high school graduation is a joyous occasion—a remarkable milestone, a life-changing event to be remembered. But for Shelby, it was much more than that.

What made Shelby’s graduation exceptional is a simple act many take for granted. He did what just a little over a year ago he was told he might never do again—he walked.

“Going to Walk Out of There”

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Ten years later, Charlie Gibbs of Clinton still thinks: What are the odds?

“One of 200,000 mosquitoes bites me,” he says. And within days, he can’t move his arms or legs.

Doctors aren’t sure what to make of Gibbs’ mysterious symptoms. They check for heart attack, stroke and even the relatively rare Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Then a blood test reveals the true villain—a tiny mosquito bearing a terrifying virus.

“I was the first person infected with West Nile virus (WNV) in Mississippi,” Gibbs says. “Aren’t I lucky?”

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