Remembering J.T. Townsend | News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville remembered one of its unforgettable sons Saturday.
J.T. Townsend was a young man who suffered a spinal cord injury as a teenager, but that did not stop him from impacting peoples' lives.
Saturday, Jacksonville celebrated his birthday when people gathered at Unity Plaza.
Carmen Townsend, his mother, said, "I am overwhelmed and happy."
His family was touched that so many people came out to celebrate J.T. Townsend Day, which was established last year.
His sister, Precious Townsend, said it was good "just to know people are taking the time to celebrate my brother and his birthday and his legacy he left."
Townsend, a football player at Episcopal High School, suffered a spinal cord injury in 2004 that left him paralyzed at the age of 17.
J.T.'s father, Jerry, said, "And you would never know it because every time you'd see him, he'd have this special smile on his face."
Indeed he did. JT took his challenge, and he turned it into blessings for others. He graduated from high school, went to the University of North Florida, and he formed the J.T. Townsend Foundation. It helps First Coast families with children and adults with disabilities, by providing equipment and financial assistance.
In 2013, J.T. died, but his foundation and his amazing spirit live on. The Friends of J.T. Townsend are fundraising to establish a UNF scholarship in the young man's name. Also, a commemorative stone will be in Unity Plaza's butterfly garden.
Saturday would have been J.T.'s 28th birthday.
His mother said, "I'm proud. I give God the glory but I'm so proud. I'm humbled God chose my son to help somebody else."