Ross Mason was biking on the Silver Comet Trail, an old railroad line from Atlanta to Birmingham, when he was stung by a bee.
As he reached to put on the brakes, he nicked the handle with his elbow. "I went off sideways hugging the ground, with my feet still firmly clipped in, careening into the brush," Mason wrote on his bio page. "I crashed into a small tree, right at its base, and broke my neck."
Mason was left paralyzed from the collarbone down. He can move his arms, but not his fingers. He went through months of painful, sometimes degrading therapy for his injury, but Mason told The Huffington Post that his injury was hardly a bad thing.
"We're all gonna lose our health, that's a part of life," Mason said. "Any challenges I've had have been a wonderful blessing. I'm honored God would trust me with a situation like this."
Mason also said his accident should be put in a larger context, noting that many others have suffered far more than he has.
"I've grown up in one of the richest societies on earth with a tremendous amount of opportunities," Mason said. "What in the world do I have to complain about?"
It is this mentality that has led Mason to tackle his latest challenge: making Georgia the leading state in innovative health care.
To this end, Mason founded the nonprofit Healthcare Institute for Neuro-Recovery and Innovation (HINRI), which provides free venture capital services to early stage nonprofits. The organizations that HINRI partners with must be committed to being a national or international leader in health care innovation.
One of those organizations is Georgia-based Warrior 2 Citizen, which helps returning veterans re-adjust to civilian life.
"Our programs help returning soldiers and their families deal with the many symptoms of war related post-traumatic stress and transition from combat to comfort at home," the organization's site explains.
HINRI and Warrior 2 Citizen are helping to open the first ever retreat center for service people returning from active duty, according to an HINRI press release. The center will welcome its first 100 families this fall.
The facility will provide a safe environment for service people to reengage with their families, while they get educational classes in career development, marriage counseling and emotional support, a press release said.
Mason is especially interested in helping organizations that aid members of the armed services.
"We owe them a debt as a society that we'll never repay," Mason said. "It's unconscionable to not provide them with the best possible care. We need to come together with love and compassion to serve these men and women."
Those interested in helping HINRI can click here to go to the organization's website. Warrior 2 Citizen can be found here.
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