JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A local high school football star paralyzed by a spinal cord injury has died. According to a representative from his foundation, J.T. Townsend died around 1 a.m. Wednesday of a heart attack.
Townsend was a rising star at Episcopal High School when he was hurt in October 2004.
[SLIDESHOW: REMEMBERING JT TOWNSEND
He graduated from UNF in April with a degree in Sports Management. He created the J.T. Townsend foundation to help serve communities in need right here in Jacksonville.
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Statement from Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Jim McCarthy with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation released this statement on the death of J.T. Townsend:
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation joins the Jacksonville community in mourning the passing of J.T. Townsend. "We are one of the many charitable organizations that J.T. assisted" said Jim McCarthy, executive director. Later this month, J.T. is to be honored at the CF Foundation's "Jacksonville's Finest" dinner. The event is designed to recognize young business leaders who have also had an impact on their community while helping the CF Foundation raise money to find a cure for the cystic fibrosis.
"J.T. remains an inspiration to all of us. Despite all that he personally endured, he was always willing to help others who suffered. The cystic fibrosis community will miss his presence but will remember his positive attitude exhibited in the incredible smile. He truly is one of 'Jacksonville's Finest'" McCarthy said.
Statement from Episcopal High
Episcopal School of Jacksonville is deeply saddened and shocked by the loss of J.T. Townsend. “J.T. was a courageous and inspirational young man who never lost his enthusiasm and exuberance for life after his terrible injury,” said Charley Zimmer, Head of School. “There are no words to describe the depth of admiration and affection this community has for J.T. The very fact that he had just graduated from college and was interviewing for a job adds to the tragedy of this news. We are immeasurably blessed to have known him.”
Upon J.T.’s graduation from UNF in April, a graduation party was held for him on the Episcopal campus. Members of the Episcopal faculty administration, including Mr. Zimmer, served on the Board of Directors of the J.T. Townsend Trust or the J.T. Townsend Foundation, which J.T. founded to assist others with spinal cord injuries.
“The work that J.T. did for others with similar challenges was incredible,” said Mr. Zimmer, “and he never lost the optimism and faith that was evident throughout his life. He was truly a remarkable young man and a gift to all of us.”