Tagen

IBOT PERSONAL MOBILITY DEVICE RECIPIENT

Tagen Higgins was born and raised in California, Missouri, a small town where everybody knows everybody.

He was the middle child, with an older and younger sister, and his parents made family time and activities

a priority to his close family.

Tagen played many sports but focused on football, baseball, and basketball as he got older and has fond memories of playing basketball and swimming with his sisters. Tagen loves all things outdoors.

 

In early 2022, Tagen was shot by his best friend in a tragic and unexplainable incident. Following are Tagen's words about the night the trajectory of his life changed forever and what he has been doing since.

 "On the night of my injury, I came back from college for my best friend's birthday party. It was a small gathering where we all got together and just kicked back and hung out. Nothing was different about that night than any other night. I still do not know what snapped in my best friend's head nor what gave him the motive to go crazy. After seeing him come into the room with a loaded 9mm, it all goes pretty blurry. I remember hearing shots and being very confused. The last thing I remember is seeing him come into the room I was in and the gun being pointed at my other best friend, Braeden. Instinct kicked in, and I charged him. In the process of charging and pushing him against the wall, I suffered a gunshot to the left arm and a gunshot to the neck, which was the blast that ended up paralyzing me. The person who shot me, Ethan, also shot and killed his brother that night. Jordan was a very dear friend of mine, and I miss him greatly to this day. Medics showed up not long after the incident occurred, and I was life-flighted to the nearest hospital. I would undergo surgery in the next couple of days as the doctors worked to stabilize me. They told my dad they did not know how I was alive and that the bullet missed my heart and lungs by millimeters.

 

After spending two weeks in intensive care at the Columbia hospital, it was time for therapy and rehabilitation to start. My journey started out at Rusk Rehabilitation Center, which was only a couple of miles away from the hospital I was staying at. My family and I soon came to the realization that I would need more intensive therapy than Rusk could provide. After doing research, we decided to apply at Craig Rehabilitation in Denver, Colorado, which we soon got accepted into. Upon acceptance and a couple of days of weather delay due to snow, I loaded into a jet and was shipped off to Craig. After spending months at Craig, doing therapy five days a week, and hours at a time, I built up enough strength to return to my home in Missouri. I have always been a competitive person and always strived for the best. So after being thrown a curveball, I bounced back to the best of my ability. During my after-therapy hours at Craig, I would spend my evenings in the gym lifting, trying to regain my upper body strength and the 55 pounds of muscle that I lost in the short amount of time being laid up in a hospital bed. The support system I had standing by my side is what kept me going. My mother never left my side from the moment the incident happened until we both returned home from Rusk. My father, who had to continue working, managed to either make the 12-hour drive or 2-hour flight most weekends to visit me and stand by my side. My sisters and grandparents also made multiple special trips to Colorado to do the exact same thing. Not only that, but I had friends taking off work that would make the trek to Craig and would stand by my side through it all. I received more cards and letters than were imaginable. I was constantly reminded that I was not alone in this battle and truly had the best support system possible. I only have good things to say about Craig. The doctors, nurses, and Physical and Occupation therapists went above and beyond and did more for me than one could fathom. Somedays were definitely harder than others, but the people I had at my side helped pick me up when I was down and celebrated when I was up.

 

The house I grew up in would have brought great struggles to try and live there independently. My room was upstairs, and that alone would have been an obstacle I could not tackle alone. After thinking long and hard, my father and I came up with a plan. With my parent's help, we purchased a three-bed, two-bath slab house that is a short 5-minute drive to the house I grew up in, which is also where my parents and little sister live. My older sister and I  now live in my new house, which is completely handicap accessible and fit us both nicely. She has one year of college left, so she will soon return to college and complete her last year of schooling at Mizzou. Once the day comes when she will have to move back to school, I plan to have two friends move in with me and charge them rent to help with the monthly payments on the house. I am currently working the front desk at a local chiropractor's office to give me something to do during the weekdays, so I am not just stuck at home. It gives me a reason to wake up early in the mornings and get my day started. I do not plan to work there long-term. I want to follow in my dad's footsteps. My goal is to start investing in rental properties and flipping houses; however, I still have a lot to learn. The 15th of August is when I will start my second job coaching middle school football. Sports have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and coaching will now be how I get involved and fulfill my competitive addiction. On top of those two jobs, I find time to go to the gym and work out six days out of the week. It took months to figure out how to lift in a wheelchair, but after months of trial and error, I am finally getting back to a routine in the gym and am seeing results and gaining strength daily. The main advice I could give anyone, and not only to people that are in a wheelchair, is to keep going. Everyone in life faces adversity, but it is how you deal with that adversity. You can feel pity for yourself and get down and depressed, and question why this happened to me, or you can bounce back to the best of your ability and give it your all. There is no time to feel sorry for yourself, but there is time to go out and earn what you want."

 

On behalf of all the donors, American Mobility Project is proud to provide an iBOT Personal Mobility Device to Tagen. Recently, an AMP board member took the iBOT demo unit to Tagen to try it out, and we have no doubt he will use the device to go more places, try more things, and enjoy his beautiful life. We're proud to know you, Tagen, and excited to watch you do amazing things.