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Jason Jarvis: ‘The only reason why I'm here is because I had a motorcycle helmet on.’

Jason Jarvis is speaking into a microphone across the table from KBIA's Rebecca Smith. He is wearing a gray quarter zip sweater and a backwards baseball cap.
Becca Newton
/
KBIA

Jason Jarvis spoke with the Missouri on Mic team at an event at Paquin Towers in Columbia in March.

He spoke about some injuries that dramatically changed his life and made him passionate about sharing the importance of driving safely with others.

Just as a note – this piece includes graphic descriptions of suicide and vehicular accidents.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words.

Jason Jarvis: A lot of people won't believe or understand what I'm getting ready to say.

But I was burnt in a house fire when I was three years old. My mother was a nurse, she was very strong and supportive for me.

But unfortunately, my parents went through her divorce when I was nine years old, and my father shot himself in our backyard with a shotgun.

But the crazy thing about it is – it didn't kill him.

Then it was tough going through like the next few years of my life, not understanding – seeing what was going on.

Being outside, being in nature was something that was a way for me to clear or clean my brain. So, I was outside and in nature a lot.

Jason Jarvis smiles into the camera. He is wearing a gray quarter zip and a backward baseball cap.
Becca Newton
/
KBIA

When I was a sophomore in high school, unfortunately, I didn't respect the motorcycle that I had, and unfortunately, I tried showing off too much when I was around other people.

And on November 2, 1993, when I was 16 years old, I had a motorcycle wreck going very fast – my legs went up over my back backwards and cut my spinal cord in half.

I was in a coma for 10 days.

Luckily, I woke up November 12, and with not a bad brain injury like they thought that I was going to have. I was still able to speak or use my mind.

The only reason why I'm here is because I had a motorcycle helmet on.

It was a life changing event. Because at the very beginning, I didn't understand the importance or understand why I was still here.

So, it was very easy for me to think that I didn't need to take care of myself, and fortunately, once again, since my mother was a nurse, it made it easier for me.

And so when I was about 17 years old, I started going to Missouri high schools with a program here in Columbia called “Think First,” and there's a program that teaches children about public safety and about the choices that they're making when they're out driving.

And to understand once again, then importance of protecting yourself and most definitely thinking about the choices that you make before you actually make them.

Because all it takes is one bad poor choice – and it can be a life changing event that you will have to either die from or once again, that is something that you'll have to live with rest of your life.

Rebecca Smith is a reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. She was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with degrees in Journalism and Chemistry from Truman State University in May 2014. Rebecca comes to KBIA from St. Louis Public Radio, where she worked as the news intern and covered religion, neighborhood growth and the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO.