WINDHAM, N.H. (WHDH) — It’s not a stretch to say Joe Sharron is the face of resilience.
The Windham, New Hampshire man is a life-long lover of the outdoors and an avid kite surfer.
“We go from Kennebunkport, Maine, all the way down the coast,” says Joe. “Hampton Beach in New Hampshire, Salisbury Beach in Massachusetts, Newburyport, Plum Island all the way down to Nahant.”
Sharron was vacationing with his wife in Mexico last year when his life changed forever.
“[It was a] beautiful sunny day,” he remembers. “Eighty-five degrees. If there was enough wind I would have been kite surfing that day.”
Joe’s wife left the pool area at their resort to get a massage. What happened next is a mystery.
“Somehow, I ended up in the water,” Joe says.
He was in the ocean and wasn’t breathing. Someone walking by pulled him from the water and a lifeguard gave him CPR. Joe was medically dead for about 25 minutes, according to hospital records.
After undergoing spinal surgery in Mexico, Joe was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital and placed in a medically-induced coma.
“I was put on life support,” he says. “I was put on a ventilator. I was on a trach because I wasn’t able to get any food down my throat.”
Miraculously, he survived. Joe can still remember the day he woke up.
“The Patriots were playing the Denver Broncos and I absolutely had to watch that game no matter what,” says the avid Boston sports fan.
Joe underwent hours of extensive rehab at Spaulding Rehabilitation in Boston and facilities in New Hampshire and Connecticut. Now he’s at a rehab center in Danvers, one step closer to going home.
“What’s really neat is that some of our other patients that are experiencing different struggles watch him,” says Michelle Tierney, director or rehabilitation at Brentwood Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Danvers. “[They] watch how hard he works and I think that’s contagious.”
Now he has to fight to get his body moving again, but amazingly Joe feels lucky.
“Every day I wake up and I’m thankful that I’m alive,” he says. “Because seven and a half months ago I was dead on a beach in Mexico. So just waking up every day and being alive is fantastic.”
Joe’s family set up a web site, JoeSharronChallenge.com, where people pledge to meet personal goals in Joe’s name, like losing weight or swimming a mile a week.
Joe’s friend Christophe LeMaire pledged to learn Spanish and lose ten pounds.
“[It’s amazing] fact that he can have this attitude in his own life but he’s also inspiring people to look at their own life differently,” says LeMaire.
Joe’s own personal challenge is a big one, but he’s determined to meet it.
“I’m gonna walk again someday,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes. I’m gonna put in the effort and never give up.”
Getting back on a kite board is another goal. It may seem monumental, but Joe Sharron is used to conquering life’s many unexpected waves.
“There’s a great quote in the gym that says, ‘You didn’t come this far to only come this far,’” he says. “And I think that’s awesome.”