Paralyzed man once confined to 2nd-floor apartment finds job, new home after 7 Action News story

Posted at 2:54 PM, Dec 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-20 14:54:02-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A new home and a job – this is a Taking Action For You follow up!

This summer we introduced you to a Detroit man trapped in a second-floor apartment. After becoming paralyzed not only did he lose his dream of becoming a police officer, but he lost the ability to do many things most of us take for granted because he didn’t live in a wheelchair-accessible home and couldn’t afford to move.

When his story aired on 7 Action News, a job recruiter saw it and it triggered a domino effect that changed his life, in just six months!

“Not often do people or applicants get a phone call from a recruiter saying, ‘I saw your story on the news, do you want a job?’ I’m like yes! I’ve been looking for a job for a very long time,” says Charles Blackwell with a big smile.

When we first met Blackwell back in June, he was living in his childhood Detroit home. We showed you the long staircase that stood between him and his future.

Shortly after high school, Blackwell joined the Army National Guard with plans of becoming a Detroit police officer.

But before boot camp training began, tragedy struck. He was shot in the spine in a drive-by shooting which paralyzed him from the waist down. After many terrifying months in the hospital, his mother brought him home to their second floor duplex at the top of that long staircase. Then she was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

Blackwell was trapped on the second floor. He could only leave for critical doctors' appointments and having to pay EMT’s to carry him down and out, every time. It cost him thousands of dollars just to go to a doctor’s appointment.

While trapped on the second floor, Blackwell earned multiple degrees online and applied to countless jobs, but no one would hire him remotely.

After my story aired in June, the phone rang, with a remote job opportunity, he said.

“It blew my mind because I feel like the position at Rocket Mortage is the perfect position! And the position I had been searching for, for the past seven years,” Blackwell said.

After a month-long interview process, he started working at Rocket Mortage in August. He has already earned company-wide recognition for his work, earning what they call a “Cav’s Coin.”

With a regular paycheck and a growing GoFundMe account, Charles was able to take another big step.

On Thursday, he moved into a new home, one without stairs.

“It is all wheelchair accessible," he said. "I can freely roll into my place. I can freely roll out of my place. It feels very fantastic!”

He says he is grateful for everyone who shared his story, who donated, who offered words of encouragement, and to the job recruiter who took a chance on him.

“Who would have thought in the year 2020, during a pandemic, that I would knock down the goals that I had been seeking,” Blackwell said.

Now that he doesn’t have to pay thousands of dollars just to go in and out of his front door, he can make plans for the future.

“I would like to take more physical therapy, learn how to drive with hand controls, and obtain a vehicle so I can just drive and go places,” he says.

Blackwell still has a lot of medical bills he is getting caught up on and moving out of his childhood home means he is starting with a blank slate!

If you’d like to send him a house warming gift, there are a few things he needs - here is his Amazon Wish List