On Your Side: Family caring for paralyzed son now facing eviction
Joshua Southworth's entire life changed in an instant with one high-flying flip on the trampoline.
The 17 year old landed awkwardly and broke his neck as his brothers watched in horror in the backyard of their Red Rock home.
"Josiah came in and said Joshua just seriously got hurt," recalls Joshua's brother Jeremiah. "We need your help and come outside," he was told.
The accident left Joshua paralyzed from the neck down. He spent the next month on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit at Renown before being transferred to a rehabilitation center in Salt Lake City. His mother Fay has been by his side the entire time from Reno to Salt Lake and back. They were scheduled to leave this week to go back to Salt Lake.
"It's the only thing that keeps me going is letting him know that I love him every day," she said.
That support may be paying off. Josh is slowly getting some feeling back and is able to use his thumb to operate his wheelchair and some other electronic devices. They are incremental but not insignificant signs of progress.
The long term outlook is still uncertain.
"I'm just so proud of him for hard how he pushes," said Joshua's sister Charity.
One thing Josh does have is the love of his family. His dad Mike, mom Fay and seven brothers and sisters who do their best to keep a smile on Josh's face, even when times are tough.
Sometimes it's a funny video on the computer, other times just a simple dose of brotherly love.
"I mostly hug him and try to keep his spirits up," explained Joshua's 12 year old brother Jeremiah.
Joshua admits he has good days and bad. He says getting the breathing tube removed from his throat has been a big relief.
"I can breathe," he told us. "I feel human again. Got my appetite back."
And one thing he never lost is his unselfish attitude.
Joshua told us during our interview, that he thinks it's better that this accident, as tragic as it was, happened to him and not someone else.
"I always tell myself to stay positive," he said. "I think it was better for me to get injured than any of my family. I couldn't see them in this situation at all."
And if all this wasn't enough for them to deal with, the family was dragged into court recently where they found out they're being evicted from their home. They now have two months to find a place big enough for seven of their kids that is also wheelchair accessible for Joshua.
Mounting medical bills, including one for nearly half a million dollars, are putting the family in a financial hole that's hard to comprehend. They do have insurance, but it's unclear how much the insurance will cover. Some of the bills are sitting on the kitchen counter, still unopened and piling up.
On top of that, Joshua's dad Mike lost his job with a local concrete company because he missed too much work taking care of his son.
And then the eviction.
"We were able to catch up on the rent but we weren't able to catch up on the late fees so that's what the judge decided." Mike explained.
The family isn't sure where they'll go next. The loaner van they use to transport Joshua to and from Salt Lake City has to be returned soon. So they're looking for a new one. Without a wheelchair accessible van they have no way to get around as a family or get Josh to his therapy that he needs in Salt Lake.
It might sound like the world is caving in on them. But that's not the way the Southworths see it. Their love for each other and their faith in God gets them through some very tough days that most of us could not even imagine.
Joshua says he's determined to remain upbeat.
"Yeah I do my best to stay positive."
And as Joshua's attitude shines during the toughest of times, his father's does too.
Mike knows his entire family is relying on him, in a way that no dad could ever plan or prepare for.
"I guess God thinks I can handle quite a bit so he's put on quite a challenge for us, me in general."
A family friend has set-up a gofundme account which was created specifically to raise money for a new van for the family. If you'd like to make a donation here is the link to the gofundme account: https://www.gofundme.com/the-joshua-southworth-van-project.
Joshua's family is holding up the best way they know how. Of course they could use all the help they can get during this difficult time.