How A Near-Fatal Injury Inspired One Atlanta Family To Start Shepherd Center, Give Care To Thousands

Mar 14, 2019

In 1973, Atlanta native James Shepherd Jr. graduated from the University of Georgia. He then backpacked through Europe and Africa before heading to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. There, in the waves off Rio’s famous beaches, Shepherd suffered a near-fatal accident. Teams of doctors in Brazil and the United States said he would never walk again.

Then, he did. After two years of intensive rehabilitation, James; his parents, Alana and Harold; and Dr. David Apple founded Shepherd Center in Atlanta. What began as a six-bed unit with a long waiting list now treats nearly 1,000 patients each year.


James Shepherd Jr. and Alana Shepherd joined “On Second Thought” host Virginia Prescott to talk about how they turned a personal catastrophe into a world-renowned treatment and rehabilitation center for spinal cord and brain injuries.