Motivational Speaker Joe Rhea returns to talk to students

By Jack A. Zolla, Director of Athletic Communications

 Last night, motivational speaker and beat-the-odds success story Joe Rhea returned to Molloy College to speak to student-athletes in the Madison Theatre on the school's Rockville Centre campus.

At the age of 14, Rhea was paralyzed from the neck down after sustaining a football injury in one of his high school games. Numerous doctors and medical personnel told him to accept the fact that he would have to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. About a week later, some feeling returned to one of his legs and the doctors said if he was prepared to endure enormous amounts of pain and work harder than he could ever imagine, then he might be able to strengthen his body to be able to walk again.

Well, Joe Rhea did just that.

Rhea, now 43, walks, runs, plays golf, and skis. There's no wheelchair. Only the story that he has shared with countless people across the country.

Rhea came to Molloy's campus last evening to discuss his life as a victim of a fractured neck and spinal cord injury because he met a number of people while rehabbing that were victims of drunk drivers and other catastrophic head/neck injuries. He reinforced the notion of making good decisions with regards to alcohol and driving, and spoke about never knowing how fast your life can change if you're not careful -- and how sometimes it still can, even if you are.

"We were very lucky to be able to bring Joe Rhea back to Molloy last night. His personal account of what a catastrophic spinal cord injury does to people and their families is honest and educational, but frightening at the same time," said Jim Zegers, Assistant Athletics Director for Sports Medicine. "I hope all of our student-athletes understand the message that we are responsible for our actions, whether intended or not, and that there are consequences involved when you make bad decisions."

To learn more about Joe Rhea, his story, and his quest to educate and help as many people as possible, please visit his website:

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