Jordan Thomas

One of the most recited stanzas in our WINGS creed reads, “Life’s full of surprises that make me feel different ways. If I can control myself, I will have much better days.” How to react to life’s surprises allows for many teachable moments with our kids. And even outside of WINGS, our staff will admit to pulling this line out when we need to keep things in check.

This month’s He has WINGS recipient, College of Charleston senior Jordan Thomas, serves as the ultimate teachable moment for us all—illustrating how an individual can face a life-defining surprise and even in the midst of their own struggles can use the new hand they have been dealt to show compassion for others.

Jordan was faced with the unthinkable at the age of 15, when a boating accident during a family vacation in Florida forced the amputation of both legs from the calf down. As he came to terms with this series of events, he found himself all the more grateful for the strong support of family and friends around him.

Surveying the halls at the Ryder Trauma Center opened Jordan’s eyes to less fortunate individuals who simply didn’t have the financial backing to receive the rehabilitation they so desperately needed. In a matter of weeks following his accident, the Jordan Thomas Foundation was established with the goal of raising money for children with traumatic injuries.

Today Jordan is in his final year at the College of Charleston and has raised more than $400,000 for children whose families cannot afford prosthetic limbs (an average pair of prosthetic limbs costs around $32,000). Last fall Jordan was named a CNN Hero of the Week, and he was invited to be a keynote speaker at the Mosaic 2010 University Conference in Dubai last February.

Teaching our kids how to be socially and emotionally smart requires lessons in managing stress, empathizing with others, resolving conflict in constructive ways, and contributing to the well-being of others. We can’t think of a person to better emulate the WINGS way than Jordan.

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