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Josh's Story

Josh Fohner grew up in Springdale, Arkansas. He is a Razorback alum, Navy Veteran, and a nomad at heart. Never one to settle for ordinary, Josh threw himself into every project, job, friendship, sports team, and workout. He was very active in his church, led small groups, and participated in numerous mission trips. He chose to serve his country by enlisting in the NAVY. Unfortunately, that chapter of his life ended with a medical discharge following a severe shoulder and back injury during special ops training. The strongest quality about Josh is how deeply he loves people. He is a man of courage, loyalty, zeal, and Faith.

Josh’s love of adventure brought him to Buena Vista, Colorado, in July 2016. On September 27th, after just 3 months in Colorado, Josh was struck by a vehicle while biking home from his morning workout. Josh suffered severe injuries from the impact, the primary being a traumatic brain injury (TBI). He was life-flighted to the University of Colorado Medical Center in Colorado Springs and remained in the ICU for a month as he underwent a number of surgeries. The neurosurgeon said, "it is the worst diffuse axonal injury we have ever seen." Josh was then transferred to the VA's Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center in San Antonio, Texas. He would spend 6 more months there. He spent the first 15 months in a coma. He was eventually able to open his eyes, make some noises with his vocal cords, and make certain movements on command. The specialists call this process “emerging consciousness.” When he returned home he had been upgraded from a vegetative state to a minimally conscious but was still in a coma. At this time he still cannot walk, talk, or use his hands. He is fed through a feeding tube.

However, despite the long road to recovery, Josh is a fighter. In the six years that have followed, Josh has

  • emerged from his coma

  • stands with assistance

  • developed a way to communicate using his foot

  • developed the ability to communicate electronically using a switch system, his knee, and his head 

  • passed cognitive function testing

  • gone water skiing and snow skiing

  • Spends over 20 hours a week in therapy and training

  • rides an adapted recumbent side-by-side quad bike called a YUMI

  • biked the Summit Challenge at the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah

  • texted with his friends and family more regularly than a teenager with their first cell phone

  • completed a 21 day 908-mile ride on his Yumi from Colorado to Arkansas

As a community, we have pledged to stand by Josh in his fight, knowing that Josh would do the same for us in return. In honor of Josh, we invite you into this community as we commit to pray, support, and persevere with Josh in the months ahead. We invite you to be a cheerleader for Josh as you read and share stories of his progress. And, we invite you into the grander story of Josh’s message of hope and fight for recovery.