August 16, 2008 was not the ending, it was the beginnning.
For Immediate Release – August 16, 2013
August 16, 2008 was not the ending, it was the beginning for a young Reno Hero!
In 2006 and 2007 Josh Morros was a name you heard often in the off-road racing world, by racing a Kawasaki 250F in the desert and breaking records by knocking bars with the big dogs in the field on larger horsepower motorcycles. Some always asked, WHY? Josh was quickly to reply, BECAUSE I CAN!
In 2008 when the 16 year old Morros was required to move from AMA Amateur to Professional class it did not come to many as a surprise. As a Factory Kawasaki Team Green rider, Morros captured a hole shot start and lead his first Pro WORCS race for more than a hour of the two hour race, settling for a 3rd overall podium finish. This earned him respect with his new professional peers. To highlight it all, Morros earn a spot on the prestigious I.S.D.E. (International Six Days Endro) Jr. Trophy team, being the youngest rider. Life could not have been any better for this teenager from Reno, Nevada. Then one day in August 2008, at the blink of an eye, a crash going 80 mph plus, on that desert course in a Nat’l Hare & Hound competition in Wendover, Nevada, changed his whole world.
As his body, bruised and bloody, lay comatose in a hospital bed, it was hard to believe that just hours before he was a vibrant boy making history in the off-road motorcycle world. Morros suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and had sparse brain activity. His parents were given little to no hope since it is hard to predict what happens from one brain injury to the next. Their biggest concern, he was not acknowledging any reaction to pain and he had been in a coma for 24 days. Never giving up hope, his parents BELIEVED their boy would recover even though everything and almost everyone tried to prepare them to not get their hopes up. His mother knew the love for the motorcycle was going to be his driving force, but on the other hand they fought with not ever wanting him to ride again. At the end of the day both his parents realized none of it was going to be up to them, all they could do was be there and fight right beside their son for a full recovery. Josh’s over achieving personality started fighting to overcome the physical and mental challenges he faced. With each accomplished task it gave him more hope and determination to achieve every obstacle in his path. Josh had to relearn everything over from almost the infancy stage of life.
Doctors still comment on what a miraculous recovery in just five years, especially with a second TBI sustained on September 22, 2012. A big key factor has believed to be the nutrition before and after the accidents, not to mention all the initial assessment from the first responder team to the trauma doctors in Utah. With the type of severe traumatic brain injury Josh sustained, 99% that survive have some sort of disability leaving 1% able to live a normal life. Josh and his family realized early into the injury there was not a lot of awareness and found at times not having a lot of support related to brain injuries. What was available was the negative encouragement to settle with the outcome and let go of the life Josh once knew. That was not in the cards for the Morros family, instead they researched and reach out to find individuals that were willing to accept their “Never Give Up” attitude. Thankfully, Mike Shirley, owner of Double Diamond Athletic Club opened his gym, providing free training to Josh, where he still trains today and has his poster on the wall at the gym.
Finding rejection at almost every corner, they became more and more determined to find the answers they were looking for. In their heart, they stood strong to their belief, Josh’s brain cells were rejuvenating and no one could tell them any different. Failure was not an option.
That is when they all decided to make a difference based on their journey and experience. It all started in late 2009 with Josh reaching out to some youth groups just by telling his story and encouraging them to strive to always be their best. Developing a good attitude as long as they were giving 100% they would always be winners and a success in life. What matters most is everyone fails in life at one time or another, but how you get back up and go forward is what truly matters. Soon they found people reaching out for comfort and needing to understand the long and grueling recovery process from TBI’s. The biggest hurdle has been the denial and lack of awareness of concussions in our youth. Then there is the short term and long term effect if not properly treated, none of this is to put a damper on doing sports or living your life with no regrets, it is about not ignoring the signs. This all led to being advocates in Northern Nevada for Brain Injury Awareness.
Over the last 5 years, it has not all been about recovery. During Josh’s grandmothers final days in November 2010 (she sang to him every day and never left his side along with his mother the entire time he was in a coma), one of their final discussions was why Josh was restored and she wanted him to make a difference by reaching out to kids across the United States. Her words were clear, “IF YOU TACKLE YOUR MISSION LIKE YOU DID YOUR CAREER, YOU WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!” That is when Josh came up with the idea on June 20th, 2011, in honor of his grandmother, to ride 2788 miles from Reno, Nevada, to the Brain Injury Association of America in Vienna, Va. to raise awareness about traumatic brain injuries and to give inspiration to others dealing with adversity.
He enjoyed cycling but his goal was to get back to racing his motorcycle career, he felt he had some unfinished business. With his community involvement with local foundations, schools and concentrating on his recovery, Josh was also able to graduate from high school June 2012, after having to repeat some of his grade school, middle school and all of his high school. Two weeks after graduation, he completed on a 4 man cycling race team where they raced 840 miles from Oceanside, Ca to Boulder Co. capturing a 2nd place.
One brain injury is enough for any family to endure and unthinkable, then to throw a 2nd one in there is something you don’t hear about every day, especially with a positive outlook. September 22, 2012, Josh crashed trail riding his motorcycle, where he sustained a broken neck, dislocated hip that required surgery, three broken ribs and a large subdural hematoma on the brain. Once again, Josh was able to fight through every hurdle and road bump, in true Morros “NEVER GIVE UP” style.
Where Josh is today:
A Motorcycle Racing career in not in the future for Josh, which has been hard for him to come to grips with, he realizes that him being able to live a normal productive life free of disabilities, is a bigger priority than the rush he gets from racing. He misses racing and admits it is hard at times to stay positive, but focuses on new goals of being a motivational speaker. Josh attends college at Truckee Meadows Community College, is a board member of Head Injury Association of Northern Nevada and committee chair for the youth awareness programs called “Because I Can”. He added employee to his resume in June 2013, landing a job as a salesman at Reno Toyota. Having a job was a huge step for Josh as it brought a new discipline, which had a rocky start. Thankfully, his job is with a family ran dealership that was willing to become educated with Josh’s injury and was willing to make “reasonable accommodations” in order for Josh to excel.
Grateful for the opportunity and feeling blessed, Josh looks forward in continuing his mission being a positive role model through his commitment to local communities and personal education. He feels he can bring more awareness to the care and prevention about traumatic brain injuries, along with educating employers of advantages and possibilities of hiring someone that has sustained a TBI.
Asked what his plans are for August 16th and if he would be celebrating 5 years of being a TBI survivor? With a smile, Josh said, “Everyday I wake up is a celebration, besides I have joined the working force, so if you’re inclined, stop by and say “HI”.