United States Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jerry Wayne Padgett II was born in Odessa, Texas and raised in Canoga Park, California. Growing up, Padgett could be found spending most of his time with his friends. He enjoyed everything about nature–being outdoors, playing sports, such as football, and riding his bicycle. In addition, he had a passion for helping others. His dream was to become a firefighter. Later on, Padgett and his wife, Shelly, were introduced through a set-up. After talking for a bit, their relationship grew and they recently celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary. 

Wanting a lifestyle change, a solid structure, and self-discipline, combined with his passion for helping others, Padgett decided to join the US Navy in May of 2001. He loved being able to travel around the world, the comradery, and having a sense of belonging. Padgett’s main goals were to change his life, have a career, and gain new experiences. Padgett’s career was nothing short of honorable, having served on the USS Cushing, USS Preble, COMMGRP1 and in recruiting, was deployed on five separate missions, traveled to 52 countries, served as Command Community Relations Photographer and a rescue swimmer. 

In June of 2006, Padgett was on patrol and unfortunately fell 35 feet. He sustained a spinal cord injury as well as a traumatic brain injury with audio and visual impairments. His recovery was long and challenging. Currently, he resides in Ocala, Florida with his wife, his son, Mikey, his service dog, Bayley, and his son’s service dog, Griffin. He loves to be involved in anything his son is doing, such as handcycling, Legos, escape rooms, VR, fishing, and kayaking. In addition, Padgett volunteers in his community and assists in activities his son participates in. In the future, he is excited to move to the Tunnel to Towers Let Us Do Good Village, as well as his upcoming therapies which will help him with his independence. The support he and his family has received from the Foundation has allowed him to focus on healing and being a family. Finally, United States Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jerry Wayne Padgett II would like others to remember to show up in life–it is not about winning or losing, but merely showing up can make a world of a difference.