Deerfield Beach, FL – Wikus Botha never imagined a trip to the United States would end in paralyzation and the possible loss of his rugby career.
On March 20, 2011, Botha, then 19, was hit by a car while walking and was paralyzed from his neck down. He was immediately taken to Broward Health Broward General Medical Center and was told he might not walk again. In mid-April, he was transferred to Broward Health North Broward Medical Center (NBMC).
Botha is from South Africa and played for the Blue Bulls Rugby team while he attended Tuks University. He had played since elementary school and was looking forward to the big leagues.
It was less than a week after Botha’s accident that Kevin Brown, pre-admission nurse at NBMC, realized Botha could use a friend. With permission from Botha, Brown set up an introduction with his friend Mickey Shuler Sr. and his son Mickey Shuler Jr. who is a professional athlete. Shuler Jr. is a tight end for the Miami Dolphins. Both Schulers were immediately touched by Botha’s story and decided that they would visit Botha to lift his spirits.
“When I first met him, he touched my heart,” Schuler Jr. said. “He is close to my age and I had to put myself in his shoes. I couldn’t imagine going through an accident like this alone. I want to see him get better.”
Since their first meeting, they have seen each other more than 20 times. Schuler has brought his family, fianc