Community unites to help man paralyzed on vacation in Nags Head

Posted at 4:51 PM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 18:33:02-05

GOOCHLAND, Va. -- Justin Bennett doesn’t recognize his new bathroom, but the roomier space is just what the 26-year-old Goochland man needs.

“The hallways and bedrooms were going to be hard to maneuver without reconstruction,” Justin says. “They made it so it is like my home.”

Last summer Justin found himself face down in the waters of Nags Head, unable to move. Moments before Justin broke his neck and became paralyzed diving into an unseen sandbar.

“I just needed to get to shore to breathe,” says Justin. “Your body feels weird and you can’t control it. It is a moment of panic you don’t know what is going on.”

Justin was Med-Flighted to a hospital in Norfolk and then spent the last few months at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

Justin Barrett was paralyzed while on vacation in Nags Head

Justin Barrett was paralyzed while on vacation in Nags Head

The young, quadriplegic man endured surgeries and months of grueling rehabilitation.

His mother Kathy Grogan-Farmer moved to Atlanta to be close to her son.

“Fear; it is every nightmare every parent could ever have,” Kathy says. “He is my hero. He always has been. He is everything.”

During Justin’s rehab in Atlanta his friends, family, and complete strangers rallied around him. Supporters transformed Justin’s home. They modified his Goochland rancher to make it more accessible.

Community rallied to work on Justins house

Community rallied to work on Justins house

“We’re going to help each other. Through thick through thin. Good, bad,” says family friend Robert Martin. “If nothing else it’s going to make Justin, his family, me and others around him stronger.”

Contractors renovated and expanded Justin’s master bathroom with supplies donated from The Home Depot in Short Pump.

“The fact that it’s going to make his life easier is what is important here,” says Brad Fuller, a manager at The Home Depot. “When (his request for help) came through this was one of the ones that we had to put at the top of the list.”

“I didn’t even have to think about it,” Fuller says.

“I am so grateful,” Justin says. “Really grateful – for everything.”


Family and friends never hesitated to help Justin. Renovations took place outside too, thanks to SB Cox Ready Mix, who installed a driveway, concrete walkway and ramp.

“Anything for him. Anything. It didn’t matter what he needed. If he needed anything at all,” says Justin’s aunt, Kelli Mills and employee at SB Cox Ready Mix. “Oh, it is incredible having him back. Just unbelievable.”

Justin’s parents could not be more grateful.

“If one person heard we needed anything we had 25 people wanting to do it,” says Kathy Grogan-Farmer.


Justin’s father, Wayne Bennett says, “Just hard to believe that so many people came together offered to help ask about him every day. The amount of support we’ve gotten is just awesome.”

Justin will encounter many bumps during this next chapter, but thanks to an outpouring of support, his long, life-altering journey just got a little smoother.

“I’m glad to be home,” says Justin. “Just glad to be home.”

If you know of someone who you think would be a perfect fit for my “Heroes Among Us” segment email Reporter Greg McQuade.