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Fletcher Cleaves is a Memphis native whose story is full of resilience, hope, and inspiration. Following a life-altering event, he discovered a passion for public speaking and began to promote the importance of safe driving and overcoming adversity through special appearances including: College GameDay, ESPN TV, ESPN Radio, SportsCenter, Outside the Lines with Bob Ley, and a National Safety Transportation Board (NSTB) event in Washington D.C. to name a few.
Fletcher's journey began in the fall of 2009. He was a lively freshman enjoying his first semester of college on a football scholarship at Lambuth University when, suddenly, everything changed. On September 10, 2009, Fletcher was involved in a tragic car accident caused by a distracted driver, who was suspected to have been texting while driving. This event left him paralyzed from the chest down, and he was challenged with the task of starting his life over. Now, a quadriplegic, Fletcher had to relearn everything to adjust to his new circumstances.
Following the accident, he and his family endured many obstacles, including both parents losing their jobs to become his full-time caretakers. However, through all of the setbacks, Fletcher was determined to prevail. After a year of intense rehabilitation, he decided to re-enroll in school at the University of Memphis, where he attained a degree in Computer Science. His recovery helped him recognize that sharing his journey could not only motivate others but also save lives.
Everyone has a story. Some are blissful, while others are tragic. Fletcher's story is full of triumph. His desire to share his experiences in hopes that more people feel empowered to endure difficult times and continue to fight for their dreams. To many, Fletcher's accident seemed like the end of a young man’s promising future. However, it became the prologue to his destiny.
“When human beings experience trauma or severe life stressors, it is not uncommon for their lives to unravel… After Fletcher's horrific car crash he had to endure the physical and mental stress of going from scholarship athlete to quadriplegic! Horrible things happen to everyone, but it is not what happens to you that defines you… It’s how you respond to it!
Importance of Education
Fletcher discusses his journey of being a student-athlete. “We all know that father time is undefeated! Your sport will end one day but who knew that my physical ability would be taken away from me at just 18 years young. Thankfully, I took my education seriously!”
“Life has many distractions. We must learn how to focus on what’s important during the different phases of our lives."
Safe / Anti-distracted Driving
Fletcher's automobile crash was caused by someone simply not paying attention behind the wheel of a car. Life is more precious than a text, phone call, or being intoxicated while driving. "Paying attention while driving is something we must all do!” – Fletcher Cleaves
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