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The Story Behind the Bear Claw


Teddy Roosevelt's thirst for adventure has always resonated with Josh. An avid outdoorsman, Roosevelt once said the greatest challenge he could ever imagine was wrestling a bear. That has always stuck with Josh.


Josh's time in the Navy was difficult. Injuries sustained during special ops training would eventually lead to a medical discharge. This was not what Josh had planned. During that time Josh recalled what TR had said about the greatest challenge he could imagine. Josh recognized this as a strong metaphor for what he was going through. In TR's honor, Josh decided to get a bear claw tattoo on his chest as a reminder of what it takes to get through tough times. On September 27th, 2016 while riding his bike home from a morning workout, Josh was hit by a jeep that failed to yield in an intersection. The accident changed Josh's life into a world in which every day is like wrestling a bear. 

Mike, Josh's father received a call from Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs around 9:30 that morning. Josh had been admitted under the name Paramount Doe. He was asked a series of questions trying to verify that Paramount Doe was indeed Josh Fohner. They asked if Josh had any identifying marks that could confirm his identity. Mike told them about his bear claw tattoo. That moment was one of mixed emotions. The Social worker was glad to finally reach Josh's father but still had to break the bad news. Mike was hoping they had the wrong dad, but that would not be the case. Now they all would begin to wrestle the bear.

Each morning during rounds the doctors would come in and tell Josh they wanted to get a thumbs up from him. And each morning the same response...nothing. Josh was in a vegetative state (coma). Josh would remain in a vegetative state for 5 months. During that period, convinced Josh could hear, Mike and John Michael made a vow that if he would move his thumb, they too would get the bear claw tattoo and help Josh fight his way back. Josh was upgraded to a minimally conscious state (still in coma) in the winter of 2017. Shortly afterwards Josh began to move his thumb. Mike, John Michael, and cousin Owen all got the bear claw.

The bear claw started as a tribute to Teddy Roosevelt, was then used to give Josh his identity, then a means by which the family could go "All In" with his recovery. Now it has came to be the symbol of Josh's fight to come back from his injuries and claim his life back...the greatest challenge any of us could imagine.

Josh's Favorite quote from Teddy Roosevelt is entitled "The Man in the Arena".

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

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