Former Amazon driver paralyzed in 2019 shooting is now training for Paralympics

Published: May. 24, 2022 at 7:06 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A St. Louis man paralyzed from the waist down after being shot during a 2019 dispute in St. Charles isn’t giving up on his dream.

In 2019, Jaylen Walker was dropping off a package at Target in St. Charles while driving for Amazon when he reportedly got into argument over parking with Larry Thomlison, 69. The confrontation ended with Walker getting shot twice.

“I have both of my bullets still in my spine,” Walker said. “I felt like it was a curse at first, but I had to look at it as a whole vision I wasn’t able to see at.”

After months in the hospital and in and out of rehabilitation, Walker worked to find his new normal. Today, his journey continues at the Paraquad Stephen A. Orthwein Center in South City.

“It’s like my safe haven. Like, I feel like I could legit come in here and not worry about anything,” Walker explained.

That’s exactly the type of environment Paraquad envisioned for its clients.

“We kind of are pioneers in independent living and creating opportunity for people with disabilities,” Aimee Wehmeier said.

Wehmeier is the president of Paraquad. She and Walker both said the facility is life-changing for people with disabilities.

“[We have] state-of-the-art equipment that’s all adapted for people with disabilities and people who are aging,” Wehmeier said.

State-of-the-art equipment that other places in Missouri don’t have yet. One in particular, has been a game-changer for Walker. It’s a robotic walking machine that’s custom fit to his size that helps simulate walking.

“This is the most comfortable I feel. It feels really realistic. I feel like I’m actually walking,” Walker said.

Although Walker will never be able to walk on his own again, he said his dreams aren’t over yet.

“I’m also training to qualify for the 2024 Paralympics,” Walker announced Monday. “I played college basketball, I also played numerous sports in High School, so I was always competitive. I look at this like a second chance. I wasn’t able to make the Olympics standing up, so this is my second chance.”

A second chance Walker said he wouldn’t have had without Paraquad.

“We uplift each other here. We are family. They’re really just finding their beauty, and their struggle, and we’re helping each other,” Walker said.

On Wednesday, May 25, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Paraquad is hosting an open house at the Orthwein Center to showcase its renovations and new equipment. Everyone is welcome. For more information about Paraquad, click here.