By HA Staff
James Thompson was 14 when he went on a band trip that would forever change his life.
On the bus trip back with his school band, he suddenly lost his balance and vision and became very dizzy. His mom rushed him to a nearby emergency room but doctors could not figure out what was causing his symptoms.
“They couldn’t figure out what was going on so they rushed me to a different hospital,” James said, who goes by JT.
After being evaluated by several doctors and undergoing an MRI, he was eventually diagnosed with hydrocephalus and had a shunt inserted. To this day, that shunt surgery remains the only brain surgery JT has undergone to manage his hydrocephalus – a fact that he doesn’t take lightly.
“30 years later, the shunt is still working properly. That’s the amazing thing. I’ve only had one brain surgery which I know is rare for hydrocephalus. I’ve been blessed and I feel like God made me to be encouraging and uplifting to others who are going through similar situations,” he says.
And that’s exactly what he’s done. Today, JT is a motivational speaker and owns his own radio station, Big Woo Radio, which he started nearly four years ago with his friend Corey Woods. What began as a weekly podcast is now an internet streaming radio station with three shows offering music, sports, advice and poetry on a 24-hour format. He is also Vice President of program called Elite Gents, where he empowers young men to do great things.
His radio station also offers him a platform to raise awareness about hydrocephalus, which he does frequently. For the past three years, JT has recorded a live broadcast during the Columbia WALK to End Hydrocephalus in South Carolina and the Charlotte WALK to End Hydrocephalus in North Carolina.
His goal is always the same – to inspire and uplift people.
“I remember feeling so scared when I found out I had to undergo surgery, feeling depressed thinking that I might die. Through my testimony, I’m able to share what I went through and tell people that it will be OK. ‘You will get through it’,” JT says
In addition to his radio station, JT works at an organization called Maxabilities in York, S.C., where he helps people with disabilities and special needs develop helpful skills and build confidence so they can find jobs. He was recently recognized by Maxabilities for 15 years of service.
“I work with people every day who feel like I have felt – like they aren’t capable. I say to them you can develop skills and do something in life. Look at me, I went to college and found my purpose. Regardless of a disability you might have, you can be a contributing member of your community,” he said.
JT lives in Rock Hill, S.C. with his wife and two sons.