Peer & Family Support Spotlight: Joshua Carroll

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on June 27, 2019 # Peer & Family Support Program Spotlight

“Wheelchair basketball saved my life,” said Joshua Carroll. “For the first time since my injury, I felt normal. Joining a basketball team opened up a whole new community of peers I never knew existed. It’s also where I met Stan.”

Carroll sustained a T12 complete injury in a 2010 car accident. Athletic and active before his injury, he wrestled with depression and anger for his first two years of life in a wheelchair. Through basketball, Carroll rediscovered his athletic passion and found a lifelong mentor in his first coach, Stan Kosloski.

“I love the guy,” said Carroll, 38, of Kosloski who is a trained Reeve Foundation Peer & Family Support Program mentor and who also lives with paraplegia at the T12 level from a 1963 car accident. “I don’t have a strong mother or father in my life for support. I really connected with Stan because I am so inspired by him. He’s become like a father to me. I actually say, ‘I love you, dad’ to him.”

Carroll excelled at adaptive basketball and quickly moved up to more competitive teams. He eventually joined the Sacramento Rollin Kings, a championship division team of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. In 2017, Carroll and his team were ranked as the third best team in the country.

“Unfortunately, all the activity, travel and a lack of self-care took a toll on me,” said Carroll who ended up in the hospital with a stage four pressure ulcer. From the hospital he was transferred to a nursing home. His depression returned, and he began to shut down.

“Stan was there for me when I got sick,” said Carroll. “He saw that I needed better care than I was getting at the nursing home, and he had me transferred back to the hospital. Then he arranged for someone from the Disability Services & Legal Center in Santa Rosa to come visit me every day.”

As Carroll’s health improved, Kosloski helped him transition into an apartment and get his life back on track.

“Stan is so strong. He taught me to grow up and be professional,” said Carroll who is a single father to two teenagers. “He has also connected me with so many people in the SCI community. I can talk to him about all kinds of life things, not just SCI issues. I am so grateful for him.”

Carroll is now a volunteer wheelchair youth basketball coach and adaptive sports camp counselor. He is also working toward a degree in Human Services Advocacy.

“I look up to Stan. I want to be like him when I grow up,” jokes Carroll. “At first, I wanted to be like Stan because he is an amazing basketball player. I had tunnel vision on improving my game. What I didn’t realize was that Stan was planting a seed in me for the virtues of mentorship.”

Following in Kosloski’s wheelchair tracks, Carroll is now a volunteer at the Disability Services & Legal Center. Most recently he has helped a newly injured Native American man from a nearby reservation get social security.

“He was lost, and he needed help. I remember well how that feels,” said Carroll. “Helping him keeps me busy and makes my heart feel good. Whenever I can reach out and help someone who is struggling more than I am, it makes me grateful and it helps me put my life in perspective.”

Carroll is one of a dozen or so Reeve Foundation peers who have expressed an interest in transitioning to become a mentor.

“I’ve learned that being a mentor helps the other person, but it also helps me. We help each other,” said Carroll. “I’m in a much better place now thanks to Stan and the connections he’s helped me make. I no longer feel alone. I’m happy to be able to pay it forward for others.”

Editor's note: Sadly, Stan passed away this past April after being interviewed for this spotlight. We are very grateful for his work within and dedication to our Peer & Family Support Program and hope that his memory serves as a reminder of the impact one person can make on another.

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