Success Stories – Lives Positively Changed

Dillon Connolley

26 years – C-4 complete quadriplegic – Olympic Swimmer

Dillon was an Olympic level swimmer at USC and was pursing a new career as a computer engineer when he dove into a wave and hit a sand bank. At the time of the accident Dillon’s parents lived in Florida so Dillon went to Shepard’s Hospital in Georgia for his acute rehab program; however, after discharge, Dillon wanted to move back home to Orange County so a good friend readied an apartment for he and his parents to live.

Like so many families who are faced with with a catastrophic injury with no support or education following hospitalization, Dillon and his parents fell into desperation and hopelessness. Dillon’s parents were forced to quit their jobs to care for Dillon 24/7. Even though Julia, Dillon’s mom was in contact with FTL prior to moving home, Julia reconnected with FTL in February. Since then Dillon and his parents have worked closely with FTL to qualify for adequate home care. Today Dillon has 24 hours 7 days per week care provided though Medical services and Dillon’s parents are now able to resume their lives while providing a supportive and loving foundation for their son.

Bryan Verschelden

31 years – C-4 complete quadriplegic – Computer Analysis

Bryan broke his neck after slipping on tile in his garage last July 2014. Bryan’s mother was researching and considering all options for her son when the insurance case manger referred her to FTL. She flew to LA, met with executive director Sian Welch and knew right away that FTL was the perfect place for Bryan to live after leaving the rehab program. FTL traveled up north to meet Bryan, coordinate his discharge, answer many questions and explain the things Bryan would have to look forward to in his new life. October 20, 2014 Bryan moved to the San Jose Freedom home to begin his independence training program.

Tamara Mena

26 years – Paraplegic, Motivational Speaker

At the age of 19 Tamara was involved in a horrific car accident, killing her boyfriend and leaving her as a paraplegic. Tamara wrote to Sian, FTL executive Director…”So speaking with you about your organization gave me hope, and to me, that is priceless! I look forward to speaking more with you about your organization and the possibility of receiving help and support so I can make the move to LA, a long-time dream to pursue my career as a wheelchair model and motivational speaker.”

Tamara graduated university with highest honors and was voted “most inspiring Latina in 2014” by the American Latino Awards and is the first wheelchair person to model at the New York Fashion Week in 2015. Tamara’s story of determination and success has reached millions of people and now Tamara is finally planning her move to LA to pursue her very promising career with FTL’s support and coordination.

George Gobbi

48 years – C-4 incomplete quadriplegic – Security Guard

George spent over 150 days in a skilled nursing facility after his accident and at discharge he was headed for a life living in a nursing home. After a nurse at the facility referred George to FTL he began realizing his opportunity to come to a Freedom Home to learn how he can live independently outside of a facility. George completed his 3-month independence training program on June 15th and has just moved out with 2 other FTL graduates to a beautiful three bedroom home. George’s best friend wrote, ” I want you to know that I am amazed and grateful for where George is in his progress, this program has changed George’s outlook of life so much, Thank you!”

Geoff Johnson

46 years – paraplegic

FTL was referred to Geoff over 2 years ago following an accident that left him a paraplegic. At the time, Geoff had a law suit pending and at the advice of his attorneys he choose to move to an assisted living home. He now has his settlement but no longer can afford, nor wants, to live in an assisted living home. Geoff is moving to the San Jose Freedom Home this Monday, July 6th to begin his 6-month journey to gain the skills in order to live at home successfully. We will update you on his progress.


31 years – quadriplegic

FTL received a call from a friend of Nathan’s 5 days ago. The friend met Nathan at church so he was calling because he heard about FTL and thought we could help this young man. Not surprisingly, FTL learned that the living conditions Nathan was forced to live under were terrible and his care needs were not being met. Nathan is desperate to change his situation so FTL is the process of learning more about him and how we can help him. The criteria FTL uses to qualify a person for the program is 1) the need to for housing and training, 2) the ability to be become independent, and the biggest and most important criteria… 3) the DESIRE to be successful in life.