Jake McGehee has an ear for great music, the heart of a lion and a soul rooted in courage. His story is one demonstrating that courage throughout his recovery and inspiring hope for the future. Life was pretty typical last summer for the twenty-eight year old musician. During a work-related chemical explosion, Jake suffered life-threatening injuries and burns and ultimately lost his right arm below the elbow. During his rehabilitation, Jake accepted every challenge with a sense of humor and determination. He even went so far as to create his own prosthesis out of an assortment of parts he had in his shop, allowing him to play the guitar again. He is a constant role model demonstrating how to overcome the unexpected and reroute your path in life, all while doing it with a fantastic attitude. Today Jake is busy managing his farm, performing with bandmates and continuing to make sweet music. He is one of those rare individuals who embodies the courage to overcome life’s obstacles, inspiring all people with whom he comes in contact.
Overcoming adversity to help others could be the personal mission of Dara Wanzer. Her ability to see the best in everyone she meets and bring out the best in people is an innate gift fostered from both the best and worst of times. During her third year at OU Law School, Dara sustained a traumatic brain injury in a motor scooter accident. Upon arriving at INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Inpatient Rehabilitation, Dara’s challenges were more cognitive than physical as she struggled with memory and problem-solving skills. Once through with her inpatient rehabilitation program, Dara continued with outpatient cognitive therapy for some time. Her tremendous recovery was enhanced by the activities she independently pursued at home. Dara returned to law school just one year after her accident, graduated, and passed the bar exam. She realized she had come full circle when she signed her new hire paperwork in the building right next to Jim Thorpe and began employment as an attorney at INTEGRIS.
Amanda Meyer could teach you a thing or two about tenacity and multitasking. A recent Oklahoma City University photography and art graduate, Amanda began exhibiting signs of multiple sclerosis at age 12 with a full diagnosis arriving at age 16. She came to INTEGRIS Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation requiring maximum assistance transferring to and from her wheelchair and barely able to stand or use her left hand. Through specialized technologies at JTR, including the Lokomat and Bioness, Amanda’s independence and mobility improved significantly. Her therapists credit her growth to constant motivation during her rehabilitation stay and a tenacity of spirit best demonstrated when she even attended night classes with one of her occupational therapists. This summer, Amanda was able to complete the MS Walk without the use of her wheelchair or a walker, using only leg braces. Amanda has recently completed her senior project, which was four years in the making - an art/photography exhibit portraying the effects of MS. By utilizing this exhibit as a platform to raise awareness of the disease, Amanda continues to serve as a strong community advocate and voice. Next project on her radar: working with OCU officials to increase handicapped accessibility on her campus while she returns to campus to pursue her masters’ degree in the hopes of teaching in the future.