JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Growing up, JT Townsend had dreams of becoming a professional football player. He was well on his way and had a scholarship to play at Florida State - until 2004.
In a game against Bishop Kenny, he suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the neck down. But that didn't stop him. He picked himself up, finished at Episcopal and enrolled at the University of North Florida. He graduated in
April with a degree in sport management and all with a positive outlook.
[SLIDESHOW: REMEMBERING JT TOWNSEND
"We think we learned more from him than we could have taught him. He was the example we should be. He gave his life to helping others," Jennifer Kane said.
Indeed he did. Through the JT Townsend Foundation, more than 35 families with disabilities have received help. He's also raised money for spinal cord research, and he dreamed of having a building with the foundation's name on it.
Kane, who taught him at UNF, says his personality was one of a kind.
"Always pleasant. Always smiling. He literally would light up a room with his smile," she continued.
Although JT is gone, his legacy will continue. The lives he touched, the friends he made and the family he adored are all looking to him and saying: well done.
"At the end of the day, he was a man of perseverance, a man of service, and a man who loved God and wanted to give back," friend Chelsi Henry said.
Instead of flowers, JT's family is asking for donations to the JT Townsend Foundation. To get involved, click here.