He played in a high school basketball game one night and awoke the next day with a numb toe.

Then the numbness moved up both of the 15-year-old New Jersey boy's legs until he couldn't move them at all.

Scott Chesney ultimately found himself paralyzed from the waist down because of what was eventually diagnosed as a rare spinal stroke, a malformation involving blood vessels called Foix-Alajouanine syndrome.

Now 43 years old and working as an inspirational speaker, the Verona, N.J., resident will be at the Genesis Heart Institute on March 25 to talk about his life experiences in a presentation titled "Maximizing Life With A Disability."

Chesney's disability has not stopped him from living life to the fullest. Married, with two children, he has twice traveled the world. He explores complementary and alternative medical treatments, but he also works hard to enjoy life.

"Do I want to walk again? Yes, absolutely. But do I have to walk again? No," he said, adding that he has found aspects of life that are much greater than when he had full use of his legs.

"I would not trade the last 28 years of my life for anything," he added.

In Davenport, he will offer his audience some tangible steps to make improvement to their lives. One example: Gratitude.

"I know that sounds simple, but there are many things in life to celebrate. Those who are aware and able to focus on gratitude ... it's an alternative to simply surviving.

"I like to use the word 'thrive.' Get on board and let's go," he said.

Chesney has spoken at Fortune 500 company functions, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and dozens of universities and schools. He is a graduate of Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J.

He also likes to skydive and go parasailing.

Chesney is an ambassador with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and his Quad-City appearance is sponsored by that organization. For more information or to make reservations, call 563-421-3491.

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