With the help of Magee Rehabilitation Hospital and the generosity of a former patient, he is finding his way back to a new life.
"As much as I say that the accident was the worst thing that happened to me, I think Magee was the best thing that happened to me after that," 24-year-old Ather Sharif said.
Sarif, a computer software engineer from Pakistan, was attending graduate school in North Dakota when he sustained a C5/C6 spinal cord injury in a car crash on March 15th.
"When I got out of the hospital, I couldn't move anything," Sharif said.
He had multiple surgeries and needed months of rehab. His family researched facilities throughout the U.S. and the world and chose Magee.
"In the beginning, I was very depressed, very angry. When I came to Magee, I met people like me, I saw what could be worse, what could be better. That completely changed my attitude," Sharif said.
Ather also met Jerry Segal, a former patient at Magee, who underwent a spinal cord operation in 1988:
"They nicked the spinal cord when they were closing me up," Segal said.
Jerry also had therapy at Magee and made a quiet commitment to the hospital.
"If I walked out of here, I would in some way pay them back," Segal said.
He has been paying Magee back for the past 25 years, helping provide patient equipment and services to patients like Ather, including equipment in a multi-therapy gym.
Then there's the Jerry Segal Street where wheel-bound patients learn how to navigate outside a hospital setting.
Ather has benefited tremendously from all of it.
"I slowly started having motion in my arms, so I could move my arms." Sharif said.
Sharif says for the future he wants to go back to school and is looking at University of Pennsylvania.
"I hope I get in. That and with Jerry Segal pushing me, I think, it's going to work out," Sharif said.
The Jerry Segal Classic Fundraiser for Magee Hospital is Friday.
To learn how you can bid for auction items on line, visit http://www.mageerehab.org/page.php?id=289