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Childhood Friends, Paralyzed at Different Times, Turn to Fitness and Each Other For Support

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Spinal Cord Injury:

A twist of fate brought these friends closer than they had ever been.

CJ Bellamy, 29, and David Kellam, 30, were both paralyzed in separate incidents years apart, but now the childhood friends have banded together as workout partners and encourage each other daily.

“I went into like a depression phase for like a year and I kind of just had to work my way out of that,” Bellamy told “When I found out about David’s injury, it was a while after my injury, but to know that you could connect with someone else and communicate with them and talk about what you are going through and can relate to it, it really helped too.”

The pair initially met in middle school riding the same bus together. They went to separate high schools but remained friends throughout the years.

Bellamy was injured first. During his junior year of high school in 2006, he was shot in a drive-by shooting and the bullet paralyzed him from the waist down at just 17.

Kellam, who was planning to go to college in West Virginia on a football scholarship, said he was visiting campus when he heard about his friend’s injury.

“I was like ‘no way.’ I was like hoping that nothing crazy happened because I heard he just got shot and at the time I didn’t know anything about paralysis,” Kellam said. “I didn’t know anything. I was like there is no way it could have happened to him like that because he had everything going for him.”

In June 2010, Kellam was injured in a motorcycle accident while away at college. He was a sophomore at the time, and when he woke up from the accident, he found himself paralyzed from the waist down.

At the time, Bellamy was still going to rehabilitation at Orlando Health in Florida, and Kellam was now an in-patient at the same hospital.

“When that happened like we reached out to each other even more and he (Bellamy) was really kind of little more down than I was,” Kellam said. “I remember him coming to rehab, him being four years in. His spirits went straight to the sky when I was doing my stuff so it was pretty cool with that connection.”

Now the pair talk every day and workout together three times a week at a SOCF CrossFit studio, which adapts the workouts for the pair, focusing on upper body strength and stamina.

“Me and him, we both are very competitive and we always try to beat each other doing whatever,” Kellam said. “There’s a couple things he’s better than me at, couple things I am better than him at, but we always try to tough it out.”

Kellam, who works at a nonprofit that focuses on finding jobs for those with disabilities, recently got Bellamy a mentor position as part of the program.

“We definitely feed on each other. It seems like we need each other,” Kellam said,

And Bellamy shares the same sentiment: “This is my guy. The more he keeps going the more I go.”

– MAYA CHUNG, Inside Edition

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