METAIRIE, La. (WGNO) — Scott Songy was running along the Pensacola beach, in and out of the water, when a powerful wave flipped him over.

In an instant, a carefree 17-year-old knew he couldn’t move.

“I remember a voice,” says Songy, “A female voice saying, ‘Sir, are you okay?’ And I said ‘No, I’m paralyzed.'”

That was on March 27th, 1986–the beginning of a 36-year journey to live as normally as possible, as a quadriplegic in a wheelchair.

And although his body was left paralyzed, Songy’s spirit was untouched.

In a Pensacola hospital where Scott spent the next two and half months in his early recovery, he was surrounded by religious art on the walls of his room.

One portrait stood out.

There was a picture of Mary, the Blessed Mother,” he says, “and it stared at me.”

“It was the picture that kind of got me through it.”

Later, when he was out of the hospital, Songy Googled the date of his accident: Holy Thursday.

WGNO recently spoke to Songy at one of his favorite places, the Cenacle Retreat in Metairie. His wheels are now wrapped in a painting of Our Lady of Medjugorje – someone who he says has changed his perspective on life, even after the loss of a longtime friend and healthcare aid Dayshawn Brown in 2019.

“There was an apparition that she gave in Medjugorje at the same time I was on the beach screaming for help. It kind of made my accident worthwhile. I’ve had bad days but I’ve shaken it off pretty quick and for the most part, I’m always smiling.”

Scott’s vision for his wheelchair was brought to life by Jerome Hellerbach and Joel Cangiolosi.