Paraplegic Randy Pullings Moves On With His Life

Randy Pullings

Randy felt like he was behind the 8 ball.

Editor’s Note: When 37-year-old Randy Pullings of Jacksonville, Florida, almost died in a motorcycle accident, he made a dramatic change from the person he was to the person he is today. He went from being totally focused on living big and making money to being a minister and humanitarian. Here’s the story of his transformation. Part 3 of a 5 part series. 

Randy Pullings had problems. He was paralyzed from the chest down, unemployed, owed $1 million in hospital bills, was behind on 3 mortgages, and had a wife and three kids to support. “I was really messed up in the accident, but I was even more messed up financially,” Pullings explains. “A woman in the hospital told me to apply for Medicare. I told her, ‘I’m not applying for Medicare; I’ve never had any government assistance in my life. I’ve always been able to earn any money I needed.’ The woman smiled and said, ‘That was when you could work. Now you can’t work, you don’t have a source of income, and you’ll need that Medicare, so you better apply.’ Fortunately, I did apply. So, after a couple of months of being at home, Medicare kicked in and took care of the rest of my hospital bills.”

When Pullings got out of the hospital, the repo man was waiting to repossess his cars. The mortgage companies were calling him every day, because he was behind on his mortgage payments. “Life was really hard then,” Pullings remembers. “I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t have any answers for any of my problems, and I didn’t have anyone to help me find answers. I didn’t know when I would be able to work again, or how I would make money. Everybody wanted money from me, and I didn’t have any. My wife was so good to me after the accident, but she could tell I really had changed. Before the accident I was a vibrant, active person and my life was all about money and getting all I could. But after the accident, I was all about being in church every Sunday and every Friday night. I wasn’t the same person that she married. She was in love with the person I was before I had the accident. Even today, she still likes to go out and party and I like to go to church and help people. We saw we couldn’t coexist. But I really have to thank her for taking care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself, and she was very good to me after my accident. The couple divorced in 2005 and Pullings requested full custody of the children. His wife didn’t object.

Randy spent a lot of time at church after the accident.

Randy spent a lot of time at church after the accident.

“I knew I couldn’t sit around and avoid solving my problems, so I told my brother who owned the clothing store that I wanted to come back and work for him. My family told me they’d pay for me to go to college. I went to New York University, took classes in graphic design and came back to work for my brother as a graphic designer. I was maintaining his website, creating magazine ads, billboard ads and anything else his company needed graphically. I drove a small, beat-up BMW 1 ½ hours to work and back every day. I had to pay $600 a month to park because, at that time, the subways weren’t set-up for wheelchairs. Once I started working in graphic design, I began to meet photographers and started doing models’ comp cards, business cards, party promotions and club flyers. My side jobs started producing more money than the job I had working for my brother. When you’re in a wheelchair, you have a lot more expenses. I was paying for all my medical supplies and my own wheelchairs, and because I didn’t know anybody else in a chair, I didn’t know about government assistance programs. I didn’t think I needed to meet other people in wheelchairs because I convinced myself that I would be able to walk again. I always assumed that my wheelchair was a temporary situation.” Today Pullings still believes that he won’t spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, but he admits he approaches that possibility with a much different attitude than he did in the past.

A few years after the accident, Pullings was able to sell one of the houses he owned and the apartment building; the bank repossessed a second house. When he first bought the apartment building, he did all the maintenance. However, after his accident, he could no longer maintain the building, so he sold it and took the money from that sale to pay his mortgage. After several years of having to negotiate snow, sleet and ice, the grind of having to leave his home by 7:30 am to get to work at 9:00 and leave work at 5:00 and get home at 6:30 had caused him to begin developing arthritis in his back. Pullings finally made the decision to move. He had about $6,000 saved, and found out he was eligible for disability. He had already paid-in 10 years to Social Security from his previous jobs and from working for his parents from the age of 14. “I knew I couldn’t live in New York on the money I had, but I could live in Florida,” Pullings reports.

Next: Randy Pullings Leaves the Snow Behind and Heads for the Sunny South


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

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One Response to Paraplegic Randy Pullings Moves On With His Life

  1. Hannah says:

    Such an inspirational spine health story! Thank you for sharing!

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