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Elliot Poag

A tragic accident in 2000 left Elliot Poag wheelchair bound in a nursing home, “just laying around waiting to die.” But a move to Decatur restored his independence and gave him a new lease on life. “I live like the birds outside, free. In my heart, I’m always free. I believe I can fly.”

On Thanksgiving morning in November, 2000, Elliot Poag got into a car with friends, who unbeknownst to him had been drinking. Elliot recalls that the driver was driving erratically and running red lights. “We were screaming at him to slow down, stop. The road came to an end and we ran into a brick wall.” The other passengers in the car walked away from the crash, but Elliot suffered a broken neck and lost the use of his legs.

Elliot endured surgery and a month of rehab, and then at a tender age of 34, was placed in a nursing home. “Golly, that place was terrible. I was just laying around waiting to die,” he says. Finally, family members took him to Augusta, Georgia. There, he met a case manager from the Shepherd Center, a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta. She was able to get Elliot in to a newly built independent living apartment complex in Decatur. He moved in on June 28, 2002, and has lived there ever since.

“I love Decatur and I love my neighbors. It has been a blessing. I have been independent and on my own for sixteen years. There’s always some place to ride to [in my electric wheelchair] and people to meet. It’s like living in paradise.”

Elliot has not allowed the hardships caused by his accident to weigh him down. “I just keep a smile on my face and keep a positive attitude, no matter how bad things get. Once you keep a positive attitude you can pass it along to the next person. I always try to put a smile on a person’s face because you never know what kind of day they have had. I live like the birds outside, free. In my heart, I’m always free. I believe I can fly.”

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