NOAH WILLIAMS | CONTRIBUTOR
Noah Williams is the first student A Story has gotten the honor to work with. In January of 2017, he was on the wrong end of a rear-end accident involving his vehicle and a semi-truck on I-225. Noah lost access to his lower extremities and has been fighting his way into a new life ever since. This is Noah’s struggle; this is Noah’s story.
It all started when Jeff, my welding teacher at Pickens, did a house visit to install the back ramp and saw the mess that was my bathroom. I remember him specifically saying: “Jesus Christ we need to figure something out.”
So, I reached out to a contactor and at that moment I got the number
I realized I needed help and knew I would not be able to do this on my own. I knew I had to swallow my pride and ask/accept help in order to make it possible to be independent and be able to get in and out of the bathroom and shower without the assistance of my family.
The only thing that I can really do is take a shower, because of how small of a space it is.
My brother, father, etc… bring me an office chair for me to pop over onto.
Then they proceed to drag me into the bathroom and push me up against the tub.
My shower chair makes it so I can hoist over and proceed to shower.
Everything else I have to do in front of the kitchen sink with a small mirror. I have to do my bowel program in my room in a bucket. I even have to pay $6 a catheter to pee. I go 7 times a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It adds up fast — not to mention pills and other supplies I need.
You have to realize that before this accident I was figuring out things on my own. I was contributing to the household, on my own clear track to a welding career, being the Helper and not the Helped. Every surgery I think more independence is on its way and the setbacks do exactly what they say: SET YOU BACK. This is a fight on its own. Depression fills the room and it’s just you and your immobility and the fight to not feel like a burden. Things have gotten dark, the type of darkness that eats you and I have had to fight out of its belly. Every time you try to reach back to the old you, it feels like you’re talking to a stranger. And as I try to learn this new me, I have grown to accept that assistance aint a big deal, even if it feels like I’m swallowing my pride by the gallon. I just smack myself and say, “Noah shut up and take the help.”
So, I reached out to Jeff and that’s when the idea of the Welding Rodeo came to be. The welding program has a history of helping people in need. I will forever be indebted to this crew. The Rodeo is a giant live auction and community event. Imagine the Pickens community rallying together: 40 + student welders making custom fabrications for people’s homes- fire pits, yard art, sports logos, even the dental and cosmetology programs getting into it by adding teeth whitening and haircuts for the auction. Picture former students also bringing their rigs and making on-site repairs. My role is to recruit sponsors and media support, along with the custom weld fabrication of items to get auctioned off. Let me tell you, there are a lot of challenges in the week leading up. The stress and “what will this look like” expectations are through the roof. It’s like you’re hopeful and scared at the same time.
What happened next was a crappy rainy day in April.
Hundreds of auction items
and a ton sweat and effort from my team.
Then one face, and another, and another and before you knew it a whole community came together.
My mind was blown. I was only hoping for maybe $5000 bucks; and $18,054 later I was like “What the hell just happened. Somethings finally gunna work.”
I am grateful for every last cent that those folks spent to help me. I don’t really know how to say thank you in a way that would mean what that day meant to me.
At this moment things are happening much slower than initially expected — which has, in one way or another, gotten normal for me. Between contractors and construction, there has been more talk than work. So, the bathroom is S-L-O-W-L-Y coming together. Thankfully, Aurora South has permitted me to use their facilities when I need them. To counter the slowness, I plan on keeping my life in the fast lane. I am building up the outfit to set me up to race my 1979 Monte Carlo at the circle track at Colorado National Speedway for the 2020 season.
Since the April 25th crash on I-70, I also plan on figuring out a way to use my platform to become a larger voice in the governmental conversation of how to make increased experience a necessary requirement for semi-truck drivers.
After what seems like a full life of endless procedures, 5 surgeries in 3 ½ years with more to come, structural cages and rods breaking and not holding up, a leaky and severed spinal cord, PTSD, depression, and so much more, I am learning how to manage slowness, practice patience, sneak out to Pickens, have friends over to the house, feed my ducks, love my family, and keep living. Even on the days it feels like I’m stuck.
One day after talking with Jeff we decided that we are going to make the Rodeo an annual event. We are excited to help other students in need. This spring, Pickens & William Smith student Michael Roloff III will be the grantee. Michael has a muscular disorder and we want to make it so he can build the funds to access a modified vehicle. We are being better with our timing with Skills USA competitions to have more hands on deck with less stress, and I will have a larger part in the operation. So, the team and myself will go back to work welding items for the auction and building another amazing event and experience.
There you have it, cripple-turned-reformed-welder, teacher, fundraiser, race car driver, and advocate.
Time to go to work and weld 18,054 struggles into as much hope as I can ignite.