Josie Mardis

Josie Mardis

I grew up in Yates Center, and was a very involved high school student, including playing basketball, softball, and being involved in band, choir, scholars bowl, and numerous clubs. In February 1998, I was involved in a rollover car accident, dislocating C6 and crushing C7 in my neck. This left me paralyzed, including impaired use of my hands. I spent a total of two months in the hospital and rehab in Wichita and missed a full nine weeks of school. I went back to school in the mornings for the final three weeks of school to complete my required English and history classes. I took a full load of classes my senior year, and graduated 3rd in my class.

I went straight to college, completing my AA degree from Allen County in 2001. I then attended Emporia State, graduating in 2006 with my Bachelor of Science in Education in secondary math and special ed. I taught high school special ed for two years, subbed for several years, spent a year as a church secretary, worked at Neosho County Community College as a developmental math teacher and tutor for about 10 years, worked at Cherry Street Youth Center in various roles for about 7 years, taught STEM at Yates Center Middle School for 1.5 years, and worked as the science and math advisor for TRIO Student Support Services at Independence Community College.

During that time, I was also awarded the Peter John Loux Outstanding Kansan with a Disability award, served as vice president and president of the Yates Center Lions Club, was a member of the Yates Center American Legion Auxiliary, volunteered as a Sunday school teacher, and served the YC United Methodist Church as Lay Member to Annual Conference.

In February 2022, I was contacted by the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC) about a research study for chronic spinal cord injury. In March 2022, I came to Louisville for a week of testing, and on April 1, was informed that I had been accepted into the trial. I, along with one of my two caregivers, her husband, and son, moved to Louisville on June 1, 2022. I was hired by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to teach adult education part time in October 2022. I currently teach English classes to Amazon employees three afternoons a week and GED classes to Bullitt County Detention Center inmates two afternoons a week. 

After months of struggles and setbacks, I had surgery to place an epidural stimulator on my spine in April 2023. I was finally able to participate in the research!  I am currently halfway through phase two of the study and have one more phase to go. It was also this past spring when I went in for repairs to my wheelchair and discovered I was due for a new one.

After months of waiting, I received a Permobil standing wheelchair. Part of getting a new chair is getting a new bracket that allows me to lock my chair into my van so I can safely drive. This helped me continue to independently get to my research and doctor appointments as well as to work.