James “Woody” Beckham

During a January 2011 rugby game between Florida Atlantic University and the University of Miami, FAU team member James “Woody” Beckham was tackled and left paralyzed from the chest down.

Woody, who grew up in Miami, was rushed to Ryder Trauma Center, where he was treated by UHealth – University of Miami neurosurgeon Michael Y. Wang, MD, FACS.

After receiving treatment at the Ryder Trauma, Woody underwent intense therapy at Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital for two months after the injury. He made such great progress there that he was able to take part in Jackson’s recreation therapy outings, including a swim with the dolphins in Islamorada and hand cycling.

The Beckham family created the Woody Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization, in Woody’s honor. The foundation raises money to improve the lives of people living with paralysis.

One of the foundation’s biggest fundraisers is an annual Lionfish Bash fishing tournament, where participants catch lionfish, an invasive species that poses a threat to the ocean ecosystem in local Atlantic waters.

In the six years since Woody’s injury, the Woody Foundation has donated $125,000 to Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital – money raised at the summer fishing tournaments – to buy new therapeutic equipment and help fund the recreation therapy program.

Woody, who is now 28, said he hopes the donation will allow other spinal cord injury and patients to continue enjoying activities in the water through Jackson’s recreation therapy program.

He says he has the Jackson medical team to thank for making a tremendous difference in his recovery.

“Jackson treated me fantastically, especially their caring staff and brilliant doctors,” Woody said. “Jackson is a special place where countless people get excellent care, particularly those who need it the most.”

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James "Woody" Beckham

“Jackson treated me fantastically, especially their caring staff and brilliant doctors,” Woody said. “Jackson is a special place where countless people get excellent care, particularly those who need it the most.”

Steven Avila

“I’m grateful to Ryder Trauma Center,” he said. “They saved my life. The treatment was the best in the world.”

Desiree Meyer

“I have fond memories of Ryder and the medical staff,” Desiree said. “Everyone was so great to me. They made me feel like I was not alone.”

Tiffany Davis & Skyla Milton

“Doctors made sure I was all right before I got out of the hospital,” said Davis, “and I hope they just keep it up and save other people, like how they worked on me.”