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Pikesville amputee wants to show he 'Never Lost A Step'

He named his campaign "Never Lost A Step," and if you saw Pikesville's Kevin Atherley walk these days, you'd probably believe it.

In September 2012, Atherley was driving home from his job as a security guard in Washington when he stopped to help a few teenagers who had been in a serious accident. When one of the victims showed signs of shock, Atherley went back to his car trunk to get her a blanket; moments later, another car had pinned him against the back of his own vehicle.

Doctors had to amputate his left leg, both of his tibias had been fractured, and he had suffered pulmonary embolisms.

Atherley, 23, has had a long road to recovery. Now he wants to use his experience to help others heal.

"After meeting other people with similar situations, [I saw] they really have no help," Atherley said. "I just felt like I had so much information to help others, and I thought: 'Maybe that's what I want to do.' "

After his accident, the Guyana-born Atherley was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center, then to Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Doctors initially thought they wouldn't be able to save his right leg, but they did. They thought they could save the left, but they didn't.

For the first year after his accident, as he slowly adjusted to life on one leg, Atherley rarely left his house — usually, only for therapy — making it difficult to see his newborn son, Jayzen, who lives with his mother. What's more, he ran into financial problems and began to suffer from depression-like symptoms.

"It was like jail," he said.

Wheelchair basketball provided an escape. Atherley was reluctant at first, but during his regular visits to the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute, recreational therapist Mike Henley wore down his resistance.

"He required some persistence and some work," Henley said. "Maybe I either charmed him or annoyed him enough to make him come."

Atherley took to the new sport quickly. He started playing wheelchair basketball with the Maryland Ravens in 2013, but with a lack of funding now keeping the team from playing competitively, Atherley plans to represent Washington's MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital in the fall. He'll play in a specially fitted chair, too, thanks to a grant he won in April through the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

Atherley's involvement with basketball has extended beyond the court. He has begun teaching adaptive sports to others, and the Ravens — who travel to about 20 local schools a year, according to team coordinator Eddie Diggs — have provided another outlet for him to share his story.

"It's been therapeutic because they see me [and] they feel like there is life after drama," Atherley said. "It kind of motivates me to get better, to show them things can get better."

That extra motivation has worked, too: "A lot of times," he added, "they don't know I'm an amputee."

Yet Atherley wants to do more. Shortly after his accident, wanting to prevent others from going through what he did, he decided to start his campaign.

"Never Lost A Step," scheduled to be operational by the end of the summer, will aim to crowd-source money and information for people with disabilities similar to his. Recently, with Henley's help, Atherley has started making T-shirts and raising awareness ahead of its launch.

Atherley hasn't been in contact with the teenagers from the accident since that day, but he continues to act for others. When Atherley started learning how to walk again six months later, he said he did it for his son.

"I just wanted to see him — I didn't want him to have to come see me at the hospital," Atherley said. "I wanted to be able to walk before he did, because I wanted to be able to keep up with him."

As far as Jayzen knows, Daddy's never lost a step.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun