NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One East New York resident has achieved incredible things since a terrible accident changed his life over a decade ago.
Garrison Redd has undeniable strength in more ways than meet the eye. The 31-year-old is paralyzed and unable to move his legs, an ability he lost 14 years ago.
“When I was 17 years old I was across the street from my house on an ordinary summer night and I got struck by a bullet,” Redd told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez on Wednesday. “Some guy from wherever came up and just started shooting.”
He said he wasn’t the intended target.
In that moment, the goal of this high school football star to go pro was shattered.
“My doctor said, ‘You may not be a player, but you can always be the coach,'” Redd said. “And from there I just thought about becoming a leader instantly. I’m gonna lead people. I’m gonna inspire people. I’m gonna encourage people and motivate people to be their best self.”
Redd graduated from York College with a degree in finance and worked for the Internal Revenue Service. Just one year ago at his local gym, a wheelchair racing coach witnessed his upper body strength. That led to an introduction into para powerlifting competitions, and a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Powerlifting Team.
His personal coach, John Gaglione, said he’s amazed by Redd’s accomplishments.
“What he’s doing, I mean he’s lifting well over double his body weight, which is an impressive lift for an able-bodied lifter,” Gaglione said. “For someone that doesn’t have the use of his legs, it’s even more impressive.”
“In para powerlifting world, based on the numbers, I’m somewhere like 15th in the world, maybe 14th, but I’m pretty much No. 1 in the nation in my weight class,” Redd said. “My next step is to get a world ranking, be top 7 in the world. That way in the future I can compete for a Paralympic gold medal.”
The ambitious athlete started the Garrison Redd Project, a non-profit organization that assists and empowers the disabled community.
“They know that there’s someone else out there accomplishing goals that’s in a similar circumstance as them and that gives them the motivation to go out and work harder,” Redd said.
He added it’s rewarding to see other individuals like himself doing extraordinary things that people would never expect.