Mario Reed always dreamed of playing professional football for the San Francisco 49ers, his favorite NFL team, or becoming a Navy SEAL.
But during his sophomore year at Millington Central High School, the former Trojan standout broke his neck and sustained a spinal cord injury while making a routine tackle, leaving Mario paralyzed from the neck down and in a wheelchair.
More than 20 years after his injury, Mario will share his life story in his upcoming documentary, “The View Within Mario Reed,” which premieres July 10 at Malco Studio on the Square.
After his hospitalization and more than a dozen surgeries, Mario turned to SRVS’ Family Support Program in 2005 for assistance. SRVS’s Family Support Program provides care for more than 400 families in West Tennessee and provides support to people with disabilities and assistance to the family members caring for their loved ones. The support is available to those who are unable to meet their needs through other agencies, organizations or funding sources.
“The Family Support Program has been very beneficial to me because insurance can only take you so far, said Reed, a former recipient of services through the program. “SRVS has helped me with a lot of things that I needed assistance for.”
That assistance included building wheelchair ramp to his home, a pivot lift, personal assistance and homemaker services, funding for transportation and respite care for his mother, sister and brother, his primary caretakers.
The program also modified Mario’s bathroom, shower and van to make it wheelchair accessible. The van’s controls were adapted so he could be more independent and able to drive himself to doctor’s appointments or to the gym for physical therapy sessions and workouts.
Over the years, Mario has defied doctors’ expectations and now has movement in his arms and hands. He also has dedicated his life to helping others. He formed after school programs for youths, he was a volunteer coach for the Grandview Middle School football and track teams, an advocate for various non-profit organizations and a motivational speaker. He also dreams of creating a youth center and raising paralysis awareness through his non-profit, the Mario Reed Foundation.
“Helping people is my passion and purpose now,” Mario said. “I learned that life wasn’t over. No matter what circumstances come your way you need to push through it.”
Troy Allen, director of Community Employment Services and Family Support, said Mario continues impress SRVS staff with his drive and determination to succeed.
“Mario is doing extremely well and he’s always working to improve,” Allen said. “It’s inspiring to see and we’re proud of the role we played.”
The premiere screening of “The View Within Mario Reed” will be July 10 at Malco Studio on the Square, 2105 Court Ave., beginning at 6:30 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit, theviewwithin.com. The cost is $16.50 per ticket online and $15 at the door.