JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Dozens of people from city leaders to former and current Jacksonville Jaguars players flooded the University of North Florida arena to celebrate the life of one man, JT Townsend.
Many who gathered to pay their respects credit Townsend for changing their lives, with just one smile. Friends of Townsend said he had a way about him that could unite an entire community.
"This man, this young man, lived a life that few of us could have lived with such grace," said Loretta Young, friend.
On Wednesday Townsend's life was cut short after suffering a heart attack, he just 26 years-old.
Townsend had been paralyzed since 2004 after he was injured in a high school football game against Bishop Kenny. The injury shattered his dreams of playing football for FSU but he never gave up. Instead he started the JT Townsend Foundation which has helped more than 35 families with disabilities.
Friends and family said Townsend's legacy will live on forever.
"People looked at JT and there was something about him that impacted your life he's one of those people in your life that you remember for the rest of your life," said Brett Parks, friend.
On June 22nd Townsend was to attend "Jacksonville's Finest" dinner where he was going to be announced as one of the honorees for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. According to Jim McCarthy, executive director of the CF Foundation, they still plan on honoring him in some way at the ceremony.