ATLANTIC COUNTY, NEW JERSEY (WTXF) - A local man who nearly lost his life in a trampoline accident is now serving as an inspiration to others. He's working to show that even something like paralysis doesn't have to keep you down.
It was November 11, 2016 and Anthony Marques was a high flying competitive high school tumbler just enjoying his life. On that day things changed dramatically as he and his girlfriend went to a trampoline park.
"A little girl decided to run under me, the place was over packed. Instead of landing on her, I tried bailing and kind of push her out of the way at the same time and that caused me to land on my neck," Anthony explained.
The injury was more severe than anyone could've imagined. Anthony was paralyzed but that wasn't even the worst of it.
"I flat lined five times while I was in the hospital," he explained.
He was robbed of his mobility and nearly his life, but two years later at the event where he met FOX 29's Bill Anderson with his family and girlfriend by his side, he's still all about defying the odds and getting better.
"I'm very stubborn I guess you could say, my mom would definitely agree with that. I hear something I don't like and I'm not doing it. I'm not going to accept it at all," Anthony said.
Anthony was a speaker at the Annual Ability Fair at Stockton University highlighting advances for those with different abilities. Calling him motivational is an understatement because his words were a challenge to many.
"People will hear what the professional says and just keep it at that. They're not going to try getting off their ventilator to breathe, they're not going to try to feed themselves, they're not gone try to get movement back or anything like that because they're not supposed to," Anthony said addressing the room.
But he wanted people to understand that even if it sounds like a cliche, 'never give up' is a meaningful statement and after being told he wouldn't move or breathe on his own Anthony knows firsthand.
"I believe that if you're able to change your mindset you can overcome any of that," he said, "I'm moving, I'm feeding myself, I'm breathing on my own again."
The ability fair was organized by Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation and filled with people looking for new technology, support and hope that things will improve. It's an amazing environment filled with resilient people like Anthony who still believe when everything tells them they shouldn't.
"You're going to fall in life but you better get back up and keep pushing because the only person that can do it is you," Anthony said.
Whether or not you were at Stockton to hear it, that's a message for all of us.