Wesley’s childhood was typical of many young boys growing up. Saturdays were spent in the outdoors riding motorcycles, playing football, hunting and fishing with his close-knit family. Sundays were spent in church. His faith, instilled at an early age, would prove to be extremely important in the years to come.
Fall was greatly anticipated each year for the arrival of deer season. Wes’ dad, as well as his grandfather, would take him and his brother, Reggie, hunting and fishing. The outdoors was another vehicle that bonded the family.
The world as the Jones family knew it changed April 9, 1987. Wes, Reggie, and two other friends were playing behind their houses on 165 acres of undeveloped land.
The boys had built a tree house that would make any child jealous. It had two stories with a roof. There was a ladder used to enter the tree house. The boys had installed a rope from the tree house floor to the bottom of another tree. A pulley was attached and they would hold on and slide down to exit. The rope was so low they had to lift their legs up to keep from dragging the ground.
This day when the boys had ventured into the woods to play in their tree house, they immediately noticed their rope had been moved from the bottom of the tree house to the very top of the roof 20 feet above the ground. Because of the great height, no one wanted to be the first to try it. Always adventurous, Wes decided to be the first. Never did the nine year boy imagine his life would be changed so drastically within a fraction of a second.
The next thing Wes knew he was lying on his back looking at the sky. The rope had snapped, sending him to the ground headfirst. His neck was instantly broken leaving him a quadriplegic. Except for barely being able to move one arm, he had no movement or feeling from his neck down.
After an ambulance and a helicopter ride, Wes arrived at Egleston Children’s Hospital, now Children’s Healthcare, and was placed in traction and stabilized.
After surviving the first night, he was transported to Shepherd Spinal Center, now Shepherd Center, which specialized in treating spinal cord injuries. The next four months were spent in this facility.
Physical therapy was a long and painful process. Wes also encountered many setbacks that did not aid in his recovery. A collapsed lung and other breathing difficulties caused him to have to have a tracheotomy. This kept him on a ventilator for a month. He also lost around a third of his body weight during this time.
With his therapy in motion, Wes was moved back to Egleston Children’s Hospital where he spent the next two months. The entire time he was in the hospital, his family was always there. Sleeping in chairs and on cots, the Jones’ continued to keep their family unit in tact.
Wes and his family quickly learned how extremely important their relationship and faith in Christ were.
Six months after that life-changing day, Wes returned home with minor movement and feeling throughout his body. In a way, being home was harder for him than being in the hospital.
His home environment was just as he had left it, but Wes was not the same. Seeing his motorcycle sitting in the garage and friends running outside was hard to handle. As time passed, he was able to get back into the swing of things; going to school, church, and so on.
A year and a half had gone by since the accident, and autumn was approaching. This had been such an exciting time just a few years back. After a lot of pestering, his dad and brother finally talked Wes into going deer hunting.
They tried their best to encourage him, even holding the rifle up so he could shoot. It was nearly impossible. Wes grew very bitter and gave up on hunting.
Every fall they would try to take him with them, but he wouldn’t go. Finally, Wes promised that he would go with them and his grandfather once a year. It was not that he did not want to go; he just felt helpless.
When Wes was fifteen, his grandfather passed away and with him went his reason for hunting. Thankfully, Reggie held Wes to his promise. One day Reggie came to him with an idea to make a rifle holder to attach to his wheelchair.
Through trial and error, they designed a gun holder that gave Wes back some of the independence he had lost. His love of the outdoors had been rekindled. He began to spend a great deal of time in the woods.
After graduating high school, he began attending Georgia State University in Atlanta. With a strong desire to help others, he decided to major in psychology. The goal was to work to help people who had had spinal cord injuries also.
With college nearing its end, Wes felt his life taking a new direction and leaving him wondering what he was going to do. One chilly fall morning while sitting in a deer stand, God gave him the answer to this question. He could combine two of his greatest loves; helping others and the outdoors.
His hope was that if people saw someone like himself excel far beyond their expected potential, it would encourage millions.
Not only would people with disabilities have much to gain, everyone with any type of obstacle in his or her life could find comfort as well as encouragement through an informative, inspirational outdoor program.
He took his passion for hunting and the outdoors to co-found Unlimited Outdoors with his brother, Reggie. Unlimited Outdoors is a weekly television show that documents Wesley’s travels and hunting adventures throughout the United States. He serves not only as Executive Producer but is the only quadriplegic host of a nationally aired outdoor television show in the country.
The show has grown tremendously in viewership and popularity in the last nine years since being picked out of more than 2000 entries for one of just a handful of open slots. Unlimited Outdoors has been the number one rated show on the network for the last four years it has aired.
With the show now reaching more than 75 million homes a week, Wesley has touched more lives than the brothers could have ever imagined. The premise of Unlimited Outdoors is much larger than that of a typical outdoor television show. Whether a person enjoys the sport of hunting or not, seeing Wesley overcome all the obstacles in his path and watching him push himself to his limits, all to enjoy his passion, can make anyone reassess their own trials and give them the courage and strength to triumph.
Unlimited Outdoors has given Wesley a platform to spread his message of his faith while showing the direct result of the power of determination. He believes that with hard work, and with God’s help, anything is possible. With all of his success, Wesley has become a sought after motivational speaker from corporations, churches, schools, and other organizations.
This led the brothers to form a motivational speaking company, Words of Triumph. Between filming for Unlimited Outdoors and Words of Triumph speaking engagements, Wesley stays on the go. Whether it is the thousands of people in person, or the millions on television, so many people have been positively impacted by Wesley’s amazing inspirational story.
Unlimited Outdoors had experienced a lot of success over the first 8 years. However, 2010 would prove to be the hardest year ever faced professionally and one of the hardest Wes faced personally since breaking his neck in 1987.
Wes suffered a bad accident at the end of 2009. While riding on a trailer coming out of the woods after an evening hunt, and he was ejected from his chair. He suffered seven broken bones and knocked out 4 teeth.
Against doctor’s advice, he maintained a full schedule to finish deer season. February rolled around and Wes had worn himself down pretty low. He pushed on and went hog hunting in Tennessee. Due to a foot of snow, he spent several days riding in the back of a truck in 8 degree weather.
Two weeks later he ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. Wes’ lung collapsed, and he had to have a tracheotomy once again. He spent a month in the hospital, three weeks of which he was on a ventilator. His life was in jeopardy, but he never gave up.
Wes’ story had come full circle. He was again laying in the room at Shepherd Center undergoing the fight of his life. He was given a lot of time to reflect. Wes had once again been reminded how precious life was.
As he slowly recovered, Wes was told that he would not be able to speak for at least a year. Unlimited Outdoors was forced to be put on hold.
God once again blessed him, and he was talking in three months. He still had a long road of recovery in front of him.
The brothers used this time to figure out how they could further give back and help others in their same situation.
They began Triumph Over Tragedy Foundation. They have seen first-hand the impact of what a traumatic injury can have on a person and their family. Wes knows from experience that learning to accept and cope with being in a wheelchair is an ongoing battle. From their personal experience, Wes and Reggie can help Triumph Over Tragedy Foundation to become a leader in building the family bond and renew their faith in order to help them through the healing process.
With his health better than it has been in years, Wes is excited to be back in the woods filming for Unlimited Outdoors. He is incredibly humbled by his success and how far he has come. He feels blessed to be able to continue to share his story and faith with millions.
He continues to try and help people realize that with hard work and most of all God’s help, no obstacle is too big to overcome. There are no limits to what people can accomplish, and his goal is to share that vision with millions on Unlimited Outdoors.