Jason Crigler brings the power of music to Northeast State Oct. 14

Jason Crigler was a fixture in New York City’s landscape playing with bands and scene stars such as Marshall Crenshaw, Ollabelle, John Cale, and Norah Jones.He seemed poised to break big until one night on stage changed everything. During one of his own shows, a blood vessel ruptured in Crigler’s brain. He was rushed to the hospital where doctors said there was little hope he would ever return to normal – if he survived at all.

Hear the story of how courage, family, and music brought a musician back from near death when Jason and his sister Marjorie share his story in Defying the Odds at Northeast State Community College at 12 noon on Oct. 14 at the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts.

The stroke left the 34-year-old musician immobile and barely responsive. His parents, sister, and his pregnant wife, Monica, were told the man they knew was lost forever. But they believed Jason could recover if he was given a chance.

Eighteen months later Crigler emerged from his vegetative state to find himself living in another state, and he had become a father. Despite the doctors’ prognosis, he was determined to reclaim his life. He relearned the simplest skills of walking, speaking, and eating. He battled intense fatigue and impaired vision. Through the grueling days of recovery his family never gave up on seeing the son, brother, and husband they knew restored.

Six years after his stroke Jason Crigler leads a regular life as a husband, father, and musician. Medical professionals say his recovery is nothing short of a miracle. How did he do it? Jason and Marjorie created Defying the Odds to tell about his experience and recovery. Marjorie speaks from a family member’s point of view while Jason relates his perspective as a survivor. His story examines the power of family and music to triumph over what medical science deemed impossible.

A documentary about Crigler’s story entitled Life. Support. Music. first aired on the PBS’ POV series in 2009. The documentary was screened at a dozen film festivals winning audience awards and making it to theaters in New York and Boston.

The Criglers’ presentation is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the Northeast State Cultural Activities Committee and is part of the College’s commemoration of Disabilities Awareness Week, Oct. 11-15. For more information, contact 423.279.7669 or jpkelly@NortheastState.edu.


Blake McMeans visits Northeast State Sept. 29

A rising tennis star once ranked among the top five amateur players in the nation, Blake McMeans thought he knew what the future held for him. Until one costly decision and a near-death experience changed his life forever.

McMeans will share his story of tragedy and triumph at Northeast State Community College on Sept. 29 at 10:30 a.m. on the main campus in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts and at 1:30 p.m. at Elizabethton site.

“I'm someone about whom the cliché, “he had it all” is true,” says McMeans in his biography. “I did have it all, and I'm fortunate to have a loving family who has stood by me and helped me through this adversity.”

At age 12, McMeans won his second Southern regional title in tennis, plus the Sportsmanship Award in Tennessee and in the 11-state Southern section. He won 5 Southern titles, and soon was being exempted from playing in the state and regional tournaments, going right on to the nationals. McMeans father died, unexpectedly, in June of 1994, from a heart attack.

The shock of his father’s death hit McMeans hard. Five months later he was out at a bar and decided he was sober enough to drive home. That decision changed his life forever. He ran off the road and hit a tree. He was by his own admission, “as close to death as a person can be.” McMeans was airlifted to a hospital where he lay in a coma for three and a half months. The prognosis for his survival was grim. At best, he might be entirely paralyzed. But Blake had different ideas.

Now mostly confined to a wheelchair, McMeans has dedicated his life to reaching out to people, young and old, and keeping many others from ever having to experience the consequences of drinking and driving.

“My wish is that I can reach out to people, young and old, and keep many others from ever having to experience the consequences of drinking and driving,” he says.

McMeans’ presentation deals with all aspects of life: the night of the accident, the months at the hospital, and the years of rehab.

“It would be very difficult for any person who hasn't experienced what I’ve experienced since that tragic mistake to understand the adversity, the hardship, the enormous struggle, that I, and my family, have had to go through,” says McMeans. “By speaking in public, I hope to bring home to people the reality of what drinking and driving can do to a person’s life.”

A documentary film about him called Underage and Under the Influence debuted on Nashville Public Television in April 2009. For more information about Blake McMeans, visit blakemcmeans.com. McMeans is keynote speaker of the College’s Disability Awareness Week commemoration.

For more information about his appearance at Northeast State, contact the Center for Students with Disabilities at 423.354.2476.


Northeast State hosts open house at KCHE Sept. 14

Get a tour of the Northeast State Community College at Kingsport complex this month when the College hosts its second annual Open House program on Sept. 14 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education (KCHE), 300 W. Market Street.

Northeast State representatives will be on hand to talk with visitors and discuss applying for admission, financial aid, career service advisement, and scholarship opportunities students should apply for now. Walking tours of Northeast State’s Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM) and Regional Center for Health Professions (RCHP) will be held at 5, 5:30, and 6 p.m. that evening.

RCAM delivers courses in General Technology, Chemical Process Operations, Electrical Technology, Electromechanical Technology and Welding/Metal Fabrication majors. RCHP houses the College’s health-related majors of Dental Assisting; EMT-Paramedic; Medical Laboratory Technology; Surgical Technology; Cardiovascular Technology; and Nursing.

KCHE consists of five institutions: Northeast State, King College, Lincoln Memorial University and the University of Tennessee. Students can earn an associate degree at Northeast State and transfer into any one of the other institutions to pursue a select number of baccalaureate degrees.

The event is open to everyone and no appointment is required. For more information, contact the office of Enrollment Services at 323.0229 or e-mail CollegeAnswers@northeaststate.edu.