Richard Collier loves a challenge.
That’s why he eagerly jumped at the opportunity when he first heard about the Brooks Rehab Challenge Mile in the Gate River Run to be held Saturday morning.
Collier will be among the participants competing in the one-mile event for athletes of all ages and abilities beginning around 10:15 a.m. And while some will do the event for fun, Collier’s competitive nature is likely to make this a race from start to finish.
“I’m taking this as a competitive event. I won’t just be moseying along,” said Collier, signed by the Jaguars after the 2006 NFL draft and a member of the team the next two seasons. “I don’t want any limits on my life. There are things I want to do so I keep pushing myself.”
It is now six months shy of five years since Collier was shot and critically wounded in a Riverside neighborhood. He suffered 14 gunshot wounds and was left paralyzed from the waist down. He later developed blood clots in his left leg that required amputation just above the knee. The gunman, Tyrone Hartsfield, was subsequently sentenced to life in prison.
Collier’s mental and physical road to recovery has been a difficult journey. Early on, he had trouble with the simplest routines, like dressing or bathing. The mental demons weren’t kind either. But he now boasts of having made great strides in both areas.
“I’m doing good. I’m enjoying life, I’m married now and I’ve really enjoyed going out and speaking to kids or doing some local radio shows,” he said this week from his house near the Town Center. “Spiritually and being a man of faith, I give a lot of credit to God for helping me get through this.
“I also have an incredible home base. My wife [Chandra Baker, whom he married in November of 2010] is my backbone and my biggest supporter.”
Collier hasn’t backed away from challenges or obstacles. While confined to a wheelchair, he’s also been fitted for a prosthetic leg that he often wears in public. One of his greatest pleasures was being able to stand next to his wife-to-be in church during their wedding ceremony.
Former Jaguar Richard Collier takes on new challenge at Gate River Run
Jacksonville Times-Union | Mar 6