How Scot Hollonbeck Became a World Changer

Editor’s Note: This is the first post in a 5-part series on Hometown Hero Scot Hollonbeck. At 14-years old, the last thing on Scot Hollonbeck’s mind after being hit by a drunk driver was being a world changer. He just wanted to live.

Scot Hollonbeck: Athlete & Social Activist

“I learned that the reason the doctors wouldn’t operate on me after the accident was because they thought either I wouldn’t survive until the operation, or that I wouldn’t survive the operation itself,” Scot Hollonbeck, today of Decatur,Georgia, remembers. At 14-years old, Hollonbeck had the world before him. He worked as a corn detasseler for Del Monte when not in school and was active in swimming, track and field, football and cycling.

One day, during the summer before his freshman year in high school, Hollonbeck was peddling his bicycle to swim practice. He was only 200-yards from his house when a drunk driver in a van crashed into him going 60-miles-per hour.

 “The first thing I thought about was how bad my new bike was damaged in the crash,” Hollonbeck says. The ambulance arrived and rushed Hollonbeck to the emergency room. He had bruises, abrasions, broken ribs and internal bleeding, but the most-severe injuries were his crushed thoracic vertebrae at the 8th, the 11th and the 12th sites and his severed spine.

In recovery, after his surgery, Hollonbeck couldn’t speak, so he wrote messages to the nurse asking about his condition.

Scot Hollonbeck faced his fears of life after spinal cord injury, and has helped improve opportunities available for others as a result.

The nurse didn’t answer but explained that the doctor would tell him about his injuries later. Finally, Hollonbeck asked if his back was broken. The nurse nodded. “I knew I was in bad shape then, because at the site of the accident, Mom and Dad were having a hard time controlling their emotions,” Hollonbeck recalls.

“Then the nurse confirmed my worst fears. I knew that I would never walk again, and that I was paralyzed. At that time, I had a lot of cultural fear and misconceptions about what life in a wheelchair would be like.”

Hollonbeck admits that he had a hard time dealing emotionally with the idea that he’d never run, bicycle, swim or play football again. “My biggest concern was that I wouldn’t be able to walk,” Hollonbeck says. “I was scared.”
But fear has different effects on people. It either will make you run and hide or challenge you to face the fear and not only defeat it, but also gain the strength and the courage needed to survive. And, facing that fear with strength and courage helped Scot Hollonbeck become one of the world’s greatest athletes.

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also founded and moderated a radio show that was syndicated in 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at

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5 Responses to How Scot Hollonbeck Became a World Changer

  1. Pingback: He Could Sit on the Bank, or He Could Build a New Boat « UroMed Catheter Health Blog

  2. heather williams says:

    this is awesome……god is sooooo great

  3. chris schaefer says:

    good to see you still making headlines Scot ol boy!!
    you deserve all the accolades you get
    your OLD friend
    chris schaefer
    san diego,ca

  4. Pingback: Mike Savicki Goes After An MBA And Discovers Wheelchair Racing « UroMed Catheter Health Blog

  5. Melissa says:

    Really amazing, Scot! Wish we all had that kind of strength, persistence and vision. Mom had a great time with you all. Hope one day we can all reconnect!
    Melissa Moody

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