Jason Roy: From Zero to a Hundred
As a child, Jason Roy wanted to be a baseball player or a police officer. Early exposure to gangs growing up in what he calls “not the best part of Houston” made him gravitate toward sports instead of the streets. He played baseball in high school, at Texas Southern University and in the minor leagues after graduation. In 2006, he shifted gears and joined the Houston Police Department as an officer.
On May 3, 2011, Roy, by then a five-year veteran of the department, flipped his squad car several times during a high-speed chase, fracturing five cervical and six thoracic vertebrae. Paralyzed from the neck down, he underwent a cervical fusion at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and was transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann three and a half weeks later.
“I came to TIRR like almost everyone else does – through the back door on a gurney pushed by paramedics, not knowing if I would ever walk again,” says Roy, who spent two months at the rehabilitation hospital. “I didn’t want to be there, and I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was frustrated by my inability to move. Eventually I opened up to my therapists. I knew that if I wanted to get back to myself, they were the people I needed for guidance, support and success in the journey of learning to walk again.”
With the tenacity of an athlete, Roy never gave up. “I had a newborn son, and I wanted my life back,” he says. “People tend to think of recovery as physical but it’s also emotional. Nobody wants to be in the hospital. I had great support from my family and friends, but there were tears in the night when they were gone – and a myriad of emotions. The nurses and therapists made me feel like I was part of their family and that support also gave me the will to fight.”
When therapists asked him to try to move, he told them he had nothing – “zero, zero, zero.” Then one day Roy’s right foot twitched. From that moment on, he never looked back.
“If I failed on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I tried again on Friday,” he says. “If I fell down, I had my pity party and then got back up. Every failure made me want to progress more. I wanted to be a father again. I wanted to be able to play baseball with my son.”
Roy walked out of TIRR Memorial Hermann on July 14, 2011. His experience inspired him to publish a book – From Zero to a Hundred: Finding My Purpose through My Pain – and launch the Zero 2 a Hundred Foundation, supporting children and young adults with spinal cord and/or brain injuries. The book sprang from a desire to encourage others with spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries. The foundation, launched in September 2014, grew out of his love for kids.
“My heart went out to the kids I met at TIRR Memorial Hermann,” he says. “Many were going back home to small towns. I knew that once they left the hospital, their chances of continuing therapy would be slim without money and resources. I started the foundation to help them.”
Roy believes we all hit zero points in our lives. “Your zero might not be the same as mine but if you live long enough, you’re going to have some zeroes. You’ve got to keep fighting. You’ve got to keep fighting.”