A Teenaged Eric Kolar Tried to Fit in While in a Wheelchair

Eric Kolar pays it forward everyday at UroMed as he assists other customers with SCI.

Eric Kolar pays it forward everyday at UroMed as he assists other customers with SCI.

Editor’s Note: At 15-years-old, Eric Kolar never could have imagined that one night out with his friends would change his life forever.  Today, quadriplegic Eric Kolar manages the Virginia branch office for UroMed, one of the nation’s largest urology supply companies.  Outside of work, he volunteers as a peer counselor for the non-profit program, Life After Spinal Cord Injury.  Eric feels that sharing his story of recovery and success after his SCI is just one way to pay it forward as gratitude to all that helped him find his own path in life.  Part 2 of a 4-part series.

I was lucky. I only spent about 2-1/2-months at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, for rehab. Most people spend about 6 months there. I broke my neck about 2-1/2-days after the last day of school of my freshman year in high school. When I was discharged from the Shepherd Center, the high school year just had started again. I returned to high school, and instead of playing football like I did my freshman year, I was in a wheelchair.

I was a little nervous about returning to school. I was comfortable at the Shepherd Center, because everyone there was in wheelchair like me. But in high school, everyone was able-bodied, except me. School was tough for me at times, but I did finish and go on to college.

I knew my dreams of being in the military were over, but I really liked what Bert Burns, the founder of UroMed, was doing. So, I started-out studying recreational therapy in college. However, the course was geared primarily toward sports for able-bodied people. At this college, they hadn’t really dealt with people who wanted to pursue a course of recreational therapy for wheelchair-bound individuals.

Eric cruised with high school friends just like any other teenager.

Eric cruised with high school friends just like any other teenager.

When the college phased-out the program, I went to work for a few years. I did clerical work at a seniors’ center for a while, worked as a host at a number of restaurants and then worked as a dispatcher for an ambulance service. I really liked that job.

In 1997, I contacted Bert Burns again, since he’d just started UroMed. I went for an interview with him, but unfortunately I didn’t have the skills required to do the job. So, when I finished working for the dispatch company, I went to a technical college and pursued a degree as a medical assistant.

I got my certification and am still a registered medical assistant. I really enjoyed being in a medical setting, doing clinicals in the hospital and drawing blood. I’d worked at an urgent-care center for about 2 weeks in school, and they hired me after graduation. I worked about 14 hours a day, 3 days on and 3 days off.

I enjoyed being there, because you never knew what type of injury or illness you’d encounter every day. Even though I lived in Columbus, Georgia, at the time, we received a lot of victims affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Eric assists customers with spinal cord injuries everyday from his office in Virginia.

Eric assists customers with spinal cord injuries everyday from his office in Virginia.

At the same time, I was getting all my supplies from At Home Medical, which is a sister company of UroMed. Back then, I tried several times to get in touch with someone on the phone to order my supplies, and every once in a while, I couldn’t get through for a long time.

When I was finally able to talk to someone, he said, “I’m sorry. We’re just so busy that sometimes we can’t get to the phone as quickly as we need to.” I asked, “Do you need some help down there?”  He replied, “Yes, we sure do.”

Todd Robinson [see Todd’s story] of Alpharetta, Georgia, a sales representative for At Home Medical, invited me to interview for a position. I was hired on the spot. Within 2 weeks, I moved to Alpharetta, GA and started working for the companies. This was in 2006, and I’ve been working for them ever since.

Eric loves getting in the spirit for Halloween, along with his friends at UroMed!

Eric loves getting in the spirit for Halloween, along with his friends at UroMed!

So, I had quite a wild ride trying to find where I fit-in after high school in terms of friendships, education and my career direction. I think many people in wheelchairs may go through the same experience I did, and my best advice is to “Never let the wheelchair stop you.”

Next: Two Hard Shots from Mother Nature Didn’t Knock-Out Eric Kolar

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 hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 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 http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

About UroMed Catheters
Headquartered in Suwanee, GA [a suburb of Atlanta], UroMed is one of the nation’s leading providers of single-use catheters, urological and disposable medical supplies, including intermittent catheters, closed system catheters, condom catheters, pediatric catheters and continence care products. UroMed is nationally accredited for Medicare reimbursement and most state Medicaid plans, and partners with private health insurance providers and health plans to provide patients with single-use catheters, catheter kits and incontinence products. UroMed also has seven staffed regional offices located in Boston, MA; Columbia, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Dallas, TX; Carlsbad, CA; Knoxville, TN; Richmond, VA; and Baton Rouge, LA; enabling next-day delivery after a customer’s initial medical supply order. For more information, please visit http://www.uromed.com or call 1-800-841-1233.

4 Responses to A Teenaged Eric Kolar Tried to Fit in While in a Wheelchair

  1. Pingback: UroMed’s Eric Kolar Pays It Forward « UroMed Catheter Health Blog

  2. Lexa Woods says:

    What a great guy! I wish I could reach through and give him a hug 🙂

    • sweet key says:

      He is a really great guy. He is fun to be around. I just learned about his story but I’ve known him for a few months . He is so high spirited. I am really luck to know someone so up lifting.

  3. Pingback: UroMed’s Eric Kolar Pays It Forward

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