Beyond the Game: Paralympian Josh George

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- 29-year-old Josh George is arguably the best wheelchair athlete in the world. A Paralympian competing in events ranging from sprints to the marathon, he has participated in three Paralympics.

At the 2004 Summer Paralympics, George participated in seven events, winning bronze medals in the 100 and 400 meter races.

He competed in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, China. There he won a gold medal in the men's 100 meters, a silver medal in the men's 800 meters, went out in the semi-finals of the men's 1500 meters, finished fourth in the men's 200 meters, went out in the first round of the men's 400 meters, went out in the first round of the men's 4 x 400 meter relay and finished sixteenth in the men's Marathon.

What George has achieved in sports is incredible -- particularly when considering that doctors dubbed George a living miracle, after he fell from a window in his family's high-rise apartment when he was four.

At four years old, Josh was momentarily airborne. Life changed forever as he went from walking to rolling in the few seconds it takes for a body to fall from a twelfth story window and land on the concrete below.

That Josh survived at all was deemed a miracle by his doctors.

He still had use of his arms and upper body, with no damage to his brain or other vital organs.

George spent one month in the hospital after the accident, one month in a full-body cast, and two separate one-month stays at a rehab facility in Delaware.

George credits his parents, who also had a one-year-old at the time, with instilling in him the notion of independence and a can-do attitude.

An honors graduate in journalism from the University of Illinois, George has earned a National Courage in Sports Award, been featured in the New York Times and on network TV newscasts. However, he doesn't seek the spotlight, but uses it to try to be an encouragement and inspire others.

Perhaps the biggest race George now runs is the race to connect with as many youngsters and adults as possible who face a similar challenge.

He was the keynote speaker at last month's fundraiser for Independence First -- a non-profit organization that serves Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin with a vision for full inclusion of people with disabilities.