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.