The next day comes – The inspiring story of John Connelly

Approximately 19 years ago John Connelly, an employee with the Upper Occoquan Service Authority (UOSA), experienced a life-changing injury and a prognosis that he may never walk again.

Speaking with his workers’ compensation claims representative from the hospital, John expressed that he would walk, work, and be active again.

And after extensive therapy and recovery, John did just that – progressing through therapy to be able to walk with a walker, while also learning ways to maneuver life and work with the assistance of a wheelchair, scooters, braces, and more.

VRSA first featured John’s remarkable story in the October 2010 Pooling Matters newsletter, to share one of the human stories behind our workers’ compensation claims.

“We receive more than 7,000 claims each year, which involve real people facing real challenges and emotions,” said VRSA Managing Director Marcus Hensel. “John’s story brings the personal and emotional dimensions of insurance claims into the light and has been an inspiration to our staff to continue approaching claims with empathy and understanding.”

Now, 19 years after his injury, he plans to retire from UOSA, an organization that held his position open for two and a half years and worked with him to help him continue his career since the injury.

Before his final day, VRSA reconnected with John to discuss his recovery and outlook on life.

“Your life gets flipped upside down, but it’s not the end of your life. That’s a hard lesson to learn,” said John. “[You are] doing one thing one day and then you’re not, [you are] in a different universe, you have to take that and bring it to your life – it won’t be perfect in any stretch, but it’s doable and worth doing. It’s not worth quitting on life.”

VRSA Director of Workers’ Compensation Claims, Robin Duvall, calls Connelly an inspiration.

“He has never given up,” said VRSA Director of Workers’ Compensation Claims Robin Duvall. “He said from the beginning that he was going to walk again, and we wanted to do everything we could to support him.”

Since his injury, John has focused on what he can do, including outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, hunting, and more.

“Being outdoors and doing stuff, [it] keeps your mind good,” said John.

John also advises anyone facing a similar injury to focus on building a support team and educating themselves about their injury.

“You learn, you figure it out, and you keep going,” said John. “Because you know, the next day comes.”

Learn more about John Connelly’s remarkable recovery and positive spirit in the video above.