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As he sat slumped on his living room floor, unable to walk or speak clearly, Jeff Newman knew it was time for a turnaround. A stroke had paralyzed his right side, and the father of three realized his unhealthy habits were to blame.

“I had been over 300 pounds for probably 10 years, and I had tried to lose weight before,” said the 49-year-old owner of Newman’s Pawn Shop in Hazlehurst. “But I wasn’t dedicated. I finally said: ‘I’ll just die happy.’

“But when my stroke happened, I said: ‘Lord, if you’ll give me a chance, I’ll do what I’m supposed to do.’”

Methodist Rehabilitation Center physical therapist Susan Geiger recently lent her expertise to a team of middle school students who took top honors at a state competition.

The team is the Techno Warriors, a group of Rankin County-area home schooled students ages 10-14. The team competed in the FIRST Lego League, which tasks students with solving engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots.

After Sam Lane Jr. of Jackson suffered a severe brain injury, family friend Katy Houston hatched a plan to “feed him back to health.”

Ten years later, Charlie Gibbs of Clinton still thinks: What are the odds?

“One of 200,000 mosquitoes bites me,” he says. And within days, he can’t move his arms or legs.

Doctors aren’t sure what to make of Gibbs’ mysterious symptoms. They check for heart attack, stroke and even the relatively rare Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Then a blood test reveals the true villain—a tiny mosquito bearing a terrifying virus.

“I was the first person infected with West Nile virus (WNV) in Mississippi,” Gibbs says. “Aren’t I lucky?”

Mendenhall High School senior Michael Shelby, like others in the graduating class of 2012, walked across the school’s football field to receive his diploma on the night of May 14.

Granted, high school graduation is a joyous occasion—a remarkable milestone, a life-changing event to be remembered. But for Shelby, it was much more than that.

What made Shelby’s graduation exceptional is a simple act many take for granted. He did what just a little over a year ago he was told he might never do again—he walked.

“Going to Walk Out of There”

There’s a vacant lot where her home once stood, so holiday homecomings will be bittersweet for Gladys Berry Jenkins of Anguilla this year.

Still, the nurse and mother of five was counting her blessings as she recently readied to leave Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson.

After almost a month in hospitals, she would finally be in the company of her youngest kids—Timia, 11, and Adrienne, 5. And it’s a precious gift considering what the three have been through.

London was the first taste of the sheer magnitude of the Paralympics for Methodist Rehab wheelchair fencers Ryan Estep and Joey Brinson.
And now they’re both counting the days until the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“It was a blast just to be there,” Brinson said.  “It made me feel like all the work I had put in was worth it, just to make it there and be able to compete. And it really made me want to get ready for the next one. I’m ready now. I wish we could go do it right now.”

Its burgundy cover is battered, and handwritten notes fill the margins of its well-worn pages.

When Bill Meador began transforming his Hickory farm into a hunter’s paradise, he built one shooting house with a wheelchair ramp.