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Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Inspires California Grad's Future Career

December 14, 2020

Jake Javier knows what it means to train hard, compete, and win.

That’s exactly what he did at this year’s Pedal 4 Possible event. Jake not only finished the half marathon in his wheelchair, he also earned the title of top individual fundraiser for the event.

Jake’s initial goal was $1,500, and he quickly had to increase it. Before he knew it, he had raised nearly $37,000 thanks to his incredibly supportive community of fellow students, friends, family, and even strangers.

“I have always wanted to give back to Craig Hospital, which is one of my favorite places in the world,” says Jake. “After my spinal cord injury, Craig gave me my life back.”

As the captain of his high school football team in Danville, CA, Jake was looking forward to playing football at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) and studying engineering. But the day before graduation, Jake dove into a friend’s swimming pool and hit his head at the bottom, causing a complete spinal cord injury. In 2016, he spent three months in inpatient care at Craig and four months in outpatient care.

“I came to Craig very unsure about my future, not knowing how I could live my life. The amazing people at Craig gave me the confidence and skills I needed to be independent and move forward,” Jake says.

Jake Javier Craig Grad Wheelchair Design

For Jake, moving forward meant continuing his plans to attend college at Cal Poly. He started in mechanical engineering but switched his major to biomedical engineering with the hope of helping others make life-changing gains. As a school project, he built an all-terrain wheelchair for two brothers with MEPAN syndrome, a disease similar to cerebral palsy. He graduates this spring.

“I’m very passionate about using my engineering knowledge to help people with disabilities,” Jake explains.

Jake has a special interest in electrostimulation and plans to go to graduate school for neuroengineering. He’s looking forward to a summer internship with Boston Scientific to work on electrostimulation devices.

Jake Javier Craig Grad Electrostimulation

“It’s a lot like what I experienced at Craig’s NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) program— using neurostimulators to electrically shock the nervous system for pain relief and possibly for functional recovery in the future,” Jake says. “That’s the hope.”

Jake Javier Craig Grad P4P Finish

This was Jake’s first year participating in Craig’s annual fundraising ride — made possible by COVID-19 and the need for it to go virtual. He picked a route near Cal Poly that runs along the San Luis Obispo Creek and ends at Avila Beach. The route is five miles long, so Jake completed it two and a half times.

“It was one of the hottest days of the summer, and as soon as it was over I dumped cold water on myself to cool down,” Jake says. “But it was an amazing feeling to finish.”

Congratulations, Jake! We extend our heartfelt thanks to you and your many supporters for expanding Culture of Care programs at Craig. Your hard work will inspire other patients to also move forward and do amazing things.