Welcome to the website of Van Brooks, a series of monthly blogs. After suffering a spinal cord injury my junior year in high school, which left me paralyzed from the neck down, much of my life's successes have been on public display. The purpose of these blogs are to share the untold stories of the trials and tribulations I had to overcome during my journey to recovery and obtaining success. I will be completely vulnerable by exposing my failures, feelings, frustrations, and fears. I will reveal conversations with myself that got me through a state of depression and loneliness. I will talk about how I was completely broken with no faith and how I was able to transform and turn my life around. I will also talk about how the death of my cousin/best friend and many other factors motivate me more than you can imagine.  Lastly, I will explain how all of these things helped me find God’s purpose for my life and how he’s using me as a vessel to do His will. It is my hope that with this blog many will be inspired to fight through whatever they may be going though because after all “a person isn’t defeated when they lose, they’re defeated when they give up”.

Okay, here’s  disclaimer about the grammarI know it but I will not always follow the rules in this blog. The purpose is to truly paint the picture to help you visualize and put yourself in my state of mind during that time in my life I’ll be speaking of.


Fulfilling God's Purpose


In a previous blog I mentioned, “God was preparing me for a life of service. He was preparing me for a journey much larger than myself. As dramatic as it was, God needed to sit me in a wheelchair to get my attention and sharpen my tools that I would need to fulfill the purpose he has on my life.”  Safe Alternative Foundation for Education is what he was preparing me for.

God ordered my ...

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My Guardian Angel


In an earlier blog, “The Journey to Recovery Begins”, I introduced you to my cousin Tadea.

Tadea and I always had an incredible relationship. Out of all of my family members, he was the closest to me. Having five sisters, he was more like a brother. At times we drove each other crazy. However, whenever I needed something or someone, there was no doubt who I would call. Just like when I tried to escape ...

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Top left: Ms. Filippelli & Van

Finding Purpose in Tragedy


I had totally forgotten what it felt like to walk, so walking again after 8 years was still surreal to me. I watched the video over and over again in disbelief. Repeatedly I asked myself, “Did I really do this? Is this really me?”

It was real and going through this ordeal revealed the purpose for my life. I finally had the answer to the elusive question “Why me?”

But wait…Before I explain my ...

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Proving Everyone Wrong


With the culmination of the graduation ceremony, I could now remove that goal from my list of things I wanted to do to prove the naysayers and nonbelievers wrong. The desire to prove people wrong was serving as my motivation. It was allowing me to use my competitiveness to continuously push myself.

The next thing on my list was to attend college. Still not quite independent yet, it was best that I attended a local ...

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