The Beat Goes On
By: Dara Lynn Rice
Name: Jason Gerling
At 23, Jason Gerling was an aspiring drummer with a promising future. Drumming professionally since he was sixteen, success seemed no more than a beat a way. For Gerling, music was not just his passion, but his identity. With plans to move to one of the epicenters of American music, New York, Nashville, or Los Angeles, it seemed nothing could thwart his dreams.
On March 27, 1994, while driving home from a late-night performance, Gerling fell asleep at the wheel of his Ford Escort, the course of his life changed immediately upon impact. Although he remembers nothing from the accident, there was plenty of evidence left to remind him. Along with a decompressed skull fracture, a concussion, and short-term memory loss, Gerling became a C6/C7 incomplete quadriplegic.
What good am I?
From working in the gym to experimenting with electrode therapy, Gerling tried everything to stimulate movement, but it wasn't until entering the swimming pool that his nerves had reawakened. Within a year, Gerling was walking in the shallow end of the pool. "I mean, it was painful, it was painful stuff, but once I was in there, I thought, "Man, if planet earth were just like a swimming pool, I could be free."
He returned to college in a wheelchair to study computer graphics. He excelled in his courses, but as hard as he tried, he couldn't forget his previous life. Because of his hard work in therapy, Gerling had gained great function back in his hands, his counselors discussed the possibility returning to the drum set. Gerling thought the idea impossible. "I had the car accident, and I was going to sell those drums, but my dad said, 'Don't, because you may need some them day.'"
Back in to drumming
From that moment on, he knew drumming had to be part of his life, somehow. "Whether it was just a hobby or whatever," remembers Gerling, "but the seed was planted and I had to continue with this art because it was such a part of my life, my identity. Everything about me had to do with the drums."
He combined his interest in music with his computer graphics background and began writing music for a few of his college friends. "I was so nervous, but I talked to my family and friends and they said, 'Jason, this could be your second chance back into music. Maybe you won't be drumming, but at least you can write music.' That's the big pivoting turn in my career and I said, Okay, I've got to figure out how to play drums again."
Reinventing the drum kit
By 2004, Gerling was once again a professional drummer, but he was starting to realize his unique position as a disabled drummer, and the opportunity it presented him. It allows him to do something much more powerful than just play music, he could inspire others. "My business was starting to do pretty well," he says. "That's when I started to think, Man, other people need to see that a guy in a wheelchair, a person with a disability, can return to his dream of playing the drums."
Jason's new dream
Gerling's dreams of inspiration go far beyond playing in concerts and speaking for audiences. He hopes to one day play with Seal, John Mayor, Sting, or Peter Gabriel to raise money for spinal cord research. And while those aspirations might seem impractical for most of us, for a guy who was told he could never do something he has always done, who is going to tell him he can't?
Between the Wheels - The debut DVD from drummer Jason Gerling, a mini-documentary detailing his resilient journey back to the drums after a paralyzing catastrophe put him in a wheelchair. With with an inspiring message, heartening pictures and nearly thirty rejuvenating song clips written & performed live behind his revolutionary drums, Between the Wheels is a must-see testament sure to inspire and empower! Encourage someone tomorrow with Between the Wheels today! 15% of sales will be donated to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to help find cures for paralysis. View clips & purchase DVD for $9.99.
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