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David

Achieving Lifelong Goals

David Mann, seen here with his parents, achieved a PhD in Economics despite a life-changing spinal cord injury.

In June of 1997 David Mann was an energetic 14 year old boy spending a careless summer at the beach when a freak diving accident changed his life forever.  The severe spinal cord injury left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Before the accident, David was very active in organized sports and other athletic activities. “Going from that level of activity to being paralyzed and needing assistance with activities of daily living was a very humbling experience,” said David.

At first, David’s family had difficulty affording the attendant care services he required, until they learned of Act 150, a Pennsylvania program that helps those with disabilities obtain access to affordable attendant care services. It was through the Act 150 program that David found JEVS Human Services, who have been providing his case management services ever since, for almost 20 years. The JEVS affiliate providing his services is called Supports Your Way.

"The services I have received through JEVS and the Act 150 program have made a major difference in my life."

Although life altering, David was not to be stopped by his injury. He kept up his studies during his long period of hospitalization and rehabilitation, and graduated high school with academic honors, ranking first in his class. The following year, David fulfilled another dream; he was accepted into Princeton University where he graduated with a Bachelor’s in Economics in 2006.  Five years later he successfully completed his PhD in Economics from University of Pennsylvania.

“Managing your health as a person with a disability is critical,” said David. “If you are not well, it greatly affects your ability to achieve your goals. The attendant care services I have received have enabled me to maintain good health. Because of that good health, I have been able to graduate from college, earn a Ph.D. in economics, work full-time, and start a family.”

When David was a patient in rehabilitation, he was recruited to serve as a peer mentor to others with similar injuries. Unbeknownst to him, his future wife was working in the same building, and he was mentoring some of her patients! Married since 2009, David and Rose Marie now have a young son.

David on vacation with his family in 2018.

David is now employed full-time as a senior researcher at Mathematica, which helps governments and private organizations analyze and improve social programs that serve various groups, such as people with disabilities.

“I spend most of my time studying programs that help people with disabilities, such as Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, Vocational Rehabilitation, and Medicaid.  I also currently serve on the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council.

“Whether at work or in the community, I believe it’s important to challenge preconceptions and be intentional about getting to know (and consequently appreciate) those around us. I am grateful to work at an organization that shares this perspective.”

David considers himself fortunate to be able to work from home during the Covid-19 outbreak, and remains determined to achieve his goals despite the pandemic and despite his disability.

“I consider myself extremely blessed to have such great family and friends and be as active as I am.  I hope to be a positive influence and make a difference to my peers.”

To that end, David has some words of advice:

“If you have a disability, live in Pennsylvania, and need attendant care services, check out the Act 150 program to see if you qualify. If you do, I strongly recommend applying for services and select JEVS to manage your case. With these services you can take better care of yourself and go on to achieve the things you want to.”

 

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