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.


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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Going Home a Quadriplegic


Returning home was all I wanted since my injury. I even tried to run away from the rehabilitation center with my cousin. However, now that that day was upon me I was completely confused by my mixed emotions. “I’m happy to go home but I don’t know what to expect,” I was actually scared. So many concerns ran through my head. “How am I going to get in my house? How will I ...

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The Journey to Recover Begins


Hearing that I was getting discharged from Shock Trauma was an HUGE morale booster for me and my family. It meant that my condition was stable. It also meant that I no longer had to endure the drumming on my sides, and the pain of tubes in my nose, throat, and mouth. Despite that, I was terrified, as I was now entering into the next phase of my journey. “What now?” I thought, still unable ...

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A Prisoner in my Own Body


“Sorry Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, your son has crushed his C5 & C6 vertebrae and is paralyzed from the neck down...”

As I slowly opened my eyes, from what I thought was a nightmare, I asked myself, “Did I just hear confirmation that I really did break my neck”? Now completely awake, I laid stiff in a small hospital bed, with railings on both sides, facing the door. There were medical machines behind me, a countertop ...

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How Football Changed My Life FOREVER


Founder of Safe Alternative Foundation for Education, Philanthropist, INSPIRATIONAL Speaker, DAILY RECORDS VERY IMPORTANT PROFESSIONAL SUCCESSFUL BY 40, PRESIDENT'S VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD recipient, Champion of Courage Award recipient, LIVING LEGEND AWARD RECIPIENT

September 25, 2004 was the perfect Saturday afternoon to play high school football. The sun was shining and the weather was beautiful. I was super excited for the game because it was against the powerhouse, Georgetown Prep. It was also the first ...

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