Breaking News
More () »

Personal trainer uses injury to motivate others

Jeff Di Fulgo was paralyzed after diving into the waves at Croatan Beach. He started an Adaptive Sports program at Camp Grom to motivate others with disabilities.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — There is no quit in Jeff Di Fulgo.

There's little time these days to ask why, or wonder what might have been. 

In his motorized-chair court-side at Camp Grom in Virginia Beach, Di Fulgo is both a cheerleader and a coach. 

Fourteen months after diving into the waves at Croatan Beach and fracturing his C-5 vertebrae, the one-time Kellam High School baseball star is back in the game, encouraging others with disabilities to get up, get out and live life.

"Really I’m here and I just witness a lot. There are a lot of individuals, young and old, who all come here and they just gravitate toward me because my disability you can see," Di Fulgo said.

RELATED: Personal trainer paralyzed in Virginia Beach faces challenging recovery

RELATED: Virginia Beach trainer paralyzed after diving into sandbar determined to recover

The opportunity to start an Adaptive Sports program at Camp Grom has given Di Fulgo a chance to re-imagine his life. 

"The biggest thing I've learned is probably to stop asking why and ask what can I do with this injury," Di Fulgo adds.

That long and difficult journey for Di Fulgo began at the Shepard Center in Atlanta, a facility that specializes in treating spinal cord and brain injuries. 

Just weeks after his accident, Di Fulgo was airlifted there. 

Paralyzed from the chest down, he worked daily to learn skills to function. Things like getting from his motorized chair to a bed and how to use a specialized computer. 

Does Di Fulgo ever look back on those days? 

"I think back, but honestly I try and keep it in the past. I’m looking forward right now. There are so many opportunities for me to get better," he said.

RELATED: Trainer who helped quadriplegic stand, left paralyzed after diving mishap

RELATED: Two men from Virginia Beach form unlikely, but inspiring bond

Di Fulgo's life, in many ways, is a strange turn of fate. 

Di Fulgo's passion for people showed as a trainer at the 'Y' in Virginia Beach and the encouragement he gave his friend Willie, to walk again. 

Today he brings a unique perspective to his work at Camp Grom as he works to build a sense of community among those in Hampton Roads with disabilities. 

"Don’t wish your life was different. Be happy with what you’ve got. If something like this happens to you, don’t ask why," Di Fulgo said. 

Di Fulgo said whether he ever walks again is up to God. 

He does hope soon to live on his own and drive a car, and someday get married and have a family. 

A woman he met on Facebook is his new girlfriend. 

Does Di Fulgo feel like he's an inspiration to others?  

"I feel like people tell me I’m an inspiration, but I think I’m just surviving and doing what I need to do just like everyone else," Di Fulgo said. "But there are plenty of other people out there who are going through stuff that you cannot see, whether it’s depression or autism, there are just so many other disabilities out there.  And I like to say I’m a normal person I’m just seated all the time."