(WGHP) — After more than 30 years as a journalist, there are still some answers that surprise me.
When I was sitting in Jesi Stracham’s living room, I asked her a simple question: “If you could go back and not get on that motorcycle that day, would you do it?”
She looked at me with an incredible calmness and replied, “No, no.”
That day was a sunny January morning in 2015, and Jesi got on a motorcycle with a friend. As they headed toward Charlotte, a driver in front of them tried to make a quick U-turn. The motorcycle driver went through the vehicle’s back window and broke his leg. Jesi’s injuries were much more serious – she is paralyzed from the chest down.
“Honestly, it was my family’s support that kept me alive, early on. I was miserable. I didn’t know how I was going to live,” Jesi said. “I was on a road to self-destruction before I was injured. I was ungrateful, selfish, self-centered. I didn’t think about my actions and how they would affect anyone else. It was just what I wanted to do in that moment.”
Which is why the real key to her story happened while she could still walk.
“The most powerful part of my story is the day before, at my friend’s grandmother’s funeral, and, as the pastor was speaking, I had this calmness come over me from head to toe and, at the time, I thought it was of his grandmother’s passing,” Jesi remembered. “The next day, I’m in this life-changing accident. It’s amazing because, at that moment, I was saved – I was an atheist up until that moment. I didn’t believe in anything. I didn’t believe in a higher power. I thought it was all bull crap. But, there was a part of me that knew that there was a bigger purpose for it because, why would I die and make it through and be able to resuscitate and brought back, to be able to live if it was my purpose to die?”
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It was almost as tough on her family as much as it was for Jesi. Her mother became the force that pushed Jesi forward to some recovery and learning to live with the challenges she still has but it hasn’t been easy.
“Oh my God, it was awful, because just watching her fall, I would – I’ll probably start crying, now – I’d have to go around the corner and to be okay,” Jesi’s mother Jacki said. “Because I’m an older mom and I’m not going to be around to pick her up all the time. She has to do it herself. I’d go around the corner, cry a little bit, tell myself, ‘This is for Jesi.’”
As she’s dealt with her issues, Jesi does videos that, among other things, look to inspire people in similar conditions. Her social media career began with a video she posted on YouTube about the frustrations of being in a wheelchair.
“I was like, I need the world to know that my biggest issue is not, not walking. It’s not being able to get myself back up off the floor and into my chair, when I fall, it’s the fact that I’m still working to control my bowel and bladder,” Jesi says.
Meet Jesi in this Buckley Report edition of Social Media Stars.