When major life changes happen you can choose to survive or thrive. In today’s Heart of the Midstate segment we’re chatting with a local Midstate man, Paul Williams, who chose to thrive after suffering from a medical condition that left him unable to use most of the function in his arms and legs. Paul hasn’t let life’s changes slow him down from being an amazing friend, father and business owner of A.P. Williams.
Those who nominated Paul said… “Despite this severe handicap Paul is able to run a top-notch business and serve his clients with great dignity.D He owns the local construction business, A.P. Williams. Paul serves as an example to all of us how one can live a near normal life with a severe handicap. He has found ways to work around life challenges by having a simple crane installed in his vehicle. He even finds ways to enjoy life by participating in scuba diving. He is truly an example of a person that is willing to put his handicaps aside and treat others with great dignity and respect. I am truly amazed by this gentleman”.
Paul Williams is 59 years old, he graduated from Susquehanna Twp. High School in 1978 where he played baseball, football and wrestled. Paul graduated from Bucknell University in 1982 with a BS in Civil Engineering before going to work for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in Baltimore. He married his college sweetheart, Elizabeth Stevens. Before getting divorced the pair had two daughters, Jaime and Kelly. Williams career took him overseas, living in Germany and traveling Europe for years.
When Paul found out he was nominated we asked him to share his story. This is what Paul wrote:
In November of 2006 I was hunting on the opening day of the rifle season near state college pa. I was up early that morning, climbed up a mountain then up into my tree stand. Around 8 am I shot a deer, climbed down from my stand, gutted the deer then radioed a friend. Together we dragged the deer a little way then headed back toward camp to grab a deer cart. While on the way, I lost feeling and control of my left hand. About 5 minutes later I lost control of my right hand. About 10 minutes later my left leg stopped working. Fortunately I was with a friend who ran and gathered up all my friends who were hunting with us. Together they got me out of the woods and up to the emergency room in state college. From there I was life lioned to Hershey med center. At the time I had little use of any part of my body below my chest. The diagnosis was a blood clot had stopped the blood flow through the artery that feeds blood to my spinal cord. The result was damage to my spinal cord resulting in an incomplete spinal cord injury, meaning paralysis and that my abilities/disabilities were all over the board.
I spent 7 weeks at the med center, first in intensive care then into physical therapy. After that I spent 6 months in an inpatient skilled nursing facility getting as much physical and occupational therapy as possible. Ultimately, I will likely spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, my left hand has no function, my right hand works a little and my right leg works a bit. I am able to drive with little adaptive equipment, but I need specialized equipment to get in/out of my truck. I am able to care for myself and prepare meals but everything takes a lot more time. As such, I have someone at home that helps me with daily living activities.
As you can see from my bio, I am a very blessed individual. In spite of my injury I have not had to give up much that I enjoy doing because I’m surrounded by people who love me and help me. I have friends and family who will do anything for me to ensure that I continue to lead an active, useful and fulfilling life. I still hunt both archery and rifle. I have been able to continue to fish using adaptive equipment. I recently started to scuba dive and am certified as a scuba diver. My brother drew and other friends have built special stands for me at several hunting locations. They have constructed accessible bathrooms and other facilities at hunting and fishing locations to make my life easier. My family and friends help me to travel wherever I want to go and can find time to go.
My brother Drew, my partner in all of our businesses has allowed me to find and grow into my place in the operations of the businesses. I remain as president of A.P. Williams Inc. with my focus on Operations/Construction management. I work on all of our design/build projects working with clients on project scopes, designs and budgets. It’s work that I love and that I’m good at and spend more hours than are healthy for a guy trying to find balance in his life. We have fantastic employees who are also good friends who work tirelessly and go way above and beyond to ensure our success and maintain our reputation. Our employees without a doubt are our strength and greatest asset. We all work our tails off for each other. The result is a phenomenal reputation and sustained work load with more opportunities than we can handle.
I’m also on the board of a non-profit organization called Livingwell Institute, where the mission it is to provide care for individuals and families suffering from stress, depression and addiction and help them find balance in their lives and develop lives filled with meaning and purpose. This organization is comprised of individuals who have devoted their lives to caring for people at the worst times of their lives. They are also my friends and are helping me find balance in my own life.
Nobody’s life is perfect. We each have problems and issues…some are easy to see and others are well masked and hidden. My issues are physical and very visible to anyone who meets me, but nobody needs to feel sorry for me. My life is fantastic. I am blessed in more ways than I can count. My kids are my greatest joy. I have wonderful family and friends around me. I’ve had more success, fun and satisfaction in business than I could have ever expected. I’m finding opportunities to give back to this community that has given so much to me. I truly lead a blessed life.
If you would like to nominate an inspirational person or organization for the weekly Heart of the Midstate segment, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org