Community rallies for 29-year-old man paralyzed while doing mixed martial arts

NORFOLK, Va. - A Hampton Roads man got paralyzed practicing mixed martial arts back in October.

The 29-year-old is now on his road to recovery at the Shepherd Center rehab facility in Atlanta.

Now the Hampton Roads community is taking action to help him.michael-with-fighting-group

It’s a hobby that started two years ago that quickly turned into a deep passion.

Sheffield taught kids and adult mixed martial arts at the Muay Thai Kickboxing House in Norfolk.

“I was on the ground, on the mat and my body wound up going over my head and my head stayed where it was and the next think I knew I was in the hospital,” said Sheffield.

With his brother Jeremiah Sheffield by his side, Michael explained via Skype how he had a crushed spinal cord.

At first, it was unclear if he would be able to talk again however, over the past few weeks his recovery has improved greatly.

“Essentially, I’m teaching myself how to be more independent. How to get dressed, brush my teeth, feed myself and I’ve made great strides in the last few weeks.  It takes time.  It’s almost like being a baby again,” said Michael Sheffield.

He said the accident has pulled his family and friends together.michael-with-family

His mother, brother and aunt have been with him in Atlanta.

“The thing that’s impacted me the most is that this has not been a strain.  Our relationship has grown in amazing ways and I’m even more impressed with him than I ever could be,” said Jeremiah Sheffield of his brother.

Friends are raising money for him on December 17.  There is a scavenger hunt from 12 p.m. -4 p.m. Teams are expected to meet at the House of Muay Thai located at 2119 Colonial Ave., in Norfolk.

Then there is a silent auction and raffle from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. where Bro’s Fish Tacos will be set up at Coelacanth Brewing Company located at 760 A W 22nd Street in Norfolk, Va.

Friend and organizer of the event Samantha Atkinson- Lanier said, “Michael’s spirit is unbreakable.  Nothing is going to get Michael down.”

They are trying to raise money to pay for his expense medical treatment that is costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Despite being paralyzed, Michael said the injury has had a positive impact on his life.

“I think being where I am at has given me a different prescriptive and what I should be spending my time on,” said Michael Sheffield.

Now he’s working to build his strength in hopes of one day being back on the mat practicing the sport his loves.

Click here to support by giving on the GoFundMe page set up for Michael.

Click here for the benefit Facebook page.