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Jon Wenc


“It just re-vamps and re-fuels my belief behind what’s tragic, and what’s a gift.” I quote my late friend and inspiration Jim Maclaren from the movie “Emmanual’s Gift”. An amputee himself at that time, world-class triathlete, and so much more, when i lost my leg in October of 1990 at 24 years old, Jim took the time to visit me in Hartford Hospital (CT) to help me in what were the darkest hours of my life. I was a recent college graduate and former college soccer player, and at that time had been cast in a local play after having caught the acting bug in my last two years at Northeastern University. The world was my oyster, as they say. A snap decision to hop in a car with someone behind the wheel who was legally intoxicated changed all that. So incredibly lucky that my life was spared, I certainly didn’t feel that way for quite a while. Both of my lower extremities were severely damaged in the crash, infection set in, and eventually, my left leg was amputated just above my knee, my right leg highly compromised with internal fixators placed in my femur and tibia with screws affixed in the knee and ankle joints. A fractured skull and traumatic brain injury complicated things further. When i awoke 10 days after my crash from a drug induced coma, i had no memory of what had happened and remained in a state of shock for some time. When the physical pain finally began to run through me, i simply wanted to die and the situation was so excruciating dying would have been easier. Blessed and lucky to be surrounded by an abundance of love and support, i was introduced to Jim Maclaren at this time. Jim’s numerous visits, empathetic ear, and encouraging words provided for me at that time the one thing i had completely lost – hope. The journey back was grueling, filled with progress and setbacks emotionally, physically, and spiritually. In the 34 years it will be this october since my life-changing crash, I have been happily married for 29 years and am a father of three, now ages 25, 23, and 21. In those initial months after my crash, I had completely lost hope that i would ever be a father and raise a family. It was at this time another inspiring figure entered my life – Stella Day. a true angel who was a night nurse who had been assigned to sit with me overnight during what were very long, painful, lonely nights in intensive care. Often in tears, despondent and desperate as ever, Stella listened to me, comforted me with readings, offered consistent words of encouragement, and assured me that i would someday have that beautiful family I dreamed of. She gave me hope, and she was right. Acting has also remained an important part of my life, a dream once shattered ( ). I have also been able to go back to school and earn my masters in education and am now a dual certified public educator in CT, currently teaching middle school theatre and in my 23rd year as an educator. I am grateful and blessed to have an influence on my students and serve my community Once again, to Jim Maclaren’s words, “…what’s tragic and what’s a gift?” while we know nightmares can happen, my own experience has taught me that dreams do come true. There will always be struggles, and how we respond is most important. Surround yourself with support. Don’t get lost in shame or in the victim mentality – despite struggles, we all have much to offer. Keep dreaming, and choose to thrive rather than just survive!