RUN AS ONE: Clark Jacobs, Shepherd Center

As part of our journey in 2021 and in celebration and partnership with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race, we are sharing the stories of six local heroes who are impacting positive change in their communities. In addition to bringing awareness and education to each of their respective organizations, we will also be donating $10 of every top sold in the Run As One™ Collection at The Peachtree Health & Fitness Expo presented by Publix to support the Atlanta community.  


Sometimes, a person’s energy and enthusiasm to share how they overcame the odds is so captivating, it’s best to step back and let them tell it. Clark Jacobs is one of those people and this is his amazing story.


“Hello! My name’s Clark. I’d like to start off by saying that I have no firsthand memory of any of this until roughly June 2015 (~5 months after my accident).


So, my story begins back in January of 2015. I had turned 22 and I’d just finished the first week of the spring semester of my second year as a student at Georgia Tech.


Anyway, that night I took a wrong turn or two in my sleep, rolled out of my loft and fell 7’, landing on my head on the hard floor. The resulting skull fracture ended in a stroke, specifically on my cerebellum.


I’m told by my family that the months following were…let’s say pretty tough. The good news is that I was eventually transferred to Shepherd Center in Atlanta, which I’ve learned is an AMAZING place.


Following the stroke, I was in a state where I couldn’t perform life’s most basic functions, including walking, talking and swallowing. This was my “ground zero,” and also my starting point of my inpatient therapy at Shepherd Center.


I was finally discharged from Shepherd Center in early June (still 2015), at which point I was still wheelchair bound, but had gained the ability to swallow most things aside from water and speak some (albeit in an overly slurred/mumbled manner).


Back at home with my parents, not only had I begun to make some long-term memories, but I was also doing some daily in-home therapy through a company called “Amedisys”.


By early August 2015, I’d begun to use a walker for short distances in therapy. More importantly, though, I was also admitted into a therapy program with Shepherd, in their outpatient facility in Decatur called Shepherd Pathways. I entered their day program, a 5-day-a-week program involving PT, OT, and speech therapy.


Not long after the day program, in January 2016, I was able to cover short distances with a cane in therapy, shakily. It was in this state that I began attending Beyond TherapyÒ, an outpatient activity-based therapy program at Shepherd Center. Beyond Therapy was easily the hardest I’ve ever had to work at anything (both mentally and physically). But my therapists were all great, only to be outweighed by the results! My seemingly unrealistic goal of walking over a mile unassisted, working out and taking care of myself, all by August, had actually been met, and I was therefore ready to go back to school for the Fall 2016 semester!


I moved back into my chapter’s fraternity house (…where I’d fallen), though this time with my own bed frame on the ground, and I couldn’t have been more excited. Needless to say, school was quite a bit more tough once I was navigating it whilst recovering from a stroke…especially because engineering at Georgia Tech is plenty challenging on its own! Fast forward four years, and I finished my last semester (albeit online due to the COVID pandemic).


Mostly separately from my education post-accident, my mother was flabbergasted by the results of her research on bunk-/loft-bed falls in college – the numbers are…staggering. This is why she created Rail Against the Danger, or “RAD”, a non-profit seeking to spread awareness of the dangers of sleeping in bunk/lofted beds without the use of a safety rail.


My role in RAD started when my mom began to make an effort toward policy changes on some local campuses. I’d had some personal contact with Bud Peterson, the president of Georgia Tech at the time. And upon reaching out to him, I was able to secure us a table at each 2017 session of “FASET,” Georgia Tech’s freshman-orientation program.


We had a very positive experience at FASET, but that paled in comparison to the following years, when we were able to get Georgia Tech to change their policy such that each lofted dorm bed now comes with a safety rail by default!


RAD’s end goal is to get such a policy for as many college campuses across the country, on top of getting as many Greek houses to adopt such safe practices as possible (these are a separate battle, as Greek houses are actually private residences…but my chapter, Kappa Sigma at Georgia Tech, is a shining example of how such practices can be successfully adopted :)! ).”

Unique Stories. Similar Goals. United In Our Desire To Turn Potential Into Positive Change. #RunAsOne #AJCPRR

Published: May 2021




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