By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew
Tyres Dickson’s dream of becoming a college football star at the University of Texas ended when an accident with a drunk driver left him paralyzed from the chest down. Life after the 1998 accident has had its ups and downs. But, a chance opportunity of securing employment with Goodwill has helped him rebuild his confidence. The Houston native was recently named Goodwill Industries 2013 Achiever of the Year for his efforts to redefine what makes a successful work life.
Dickson, 35, will be honored during Goodwill Industries’ annual Delegate Assembly meeting in June in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“I was either going to end up on government assistance or make a way for myself,” Dickinson said. “This award validates the struggle. After I got out the coma I decided that I would stay with God and persevere through the adversity. I have many solitary, heavy moments. Then, I made it to Goodwill to see there are good people. Working for Goodwill has been good for my soul and spirit.”
For the past four years, Dickson has worked as a traffic dispatcher for Goodwill Industries of Houston.
After the accident, Dickson spent 18 months of recovery in the hospital and eight months learning life skills to deal with limited mobility. He then re-enrolled at UT to continue his education, but was unable to attend classes due to difficulties related to his paralysis and he moved back to Houston, to live with his mother. Compensation from the accident allowed him to pursue his own audio and sound mixing business, but the theft of his audio equipment in December 2008 left him without the means to earn a paycheck.
Dick Taylor, a UT alum and football booster who’d met Dickson almost a decade earlier, heard about the theft. Taylor was a friend of Steve Lufburrow, president and CEO of Goodwill Houston, and called him immediately and set up a meeting between Dickson and the CEO.
Lufburrow saw promise in the young man and hired him as the agency’s transportation dispatcher. When he learned Dickson didn’t have a way to get to work, Lufburrow enlisted help from others at Goodwill, including Emily Conner, who worked in the Goodwill’s human resources department and was paralyzed in a diving accident. She helped Dickson access the job readiness supports that helped him succeed on the job.
Dickson has also used his experience as a platform for speaking engagements. He said he has spoken to several business groups, Christian schools, and Camp LT, a preparatory academy established by former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson
Interestingly, Dickson said his job allows him to use quarterbacking skills because he has to strategize and dispatch trucks to Houston-area stores.
“The job gives me a sense of accomplishment. I help send the trucks that are delivering products to destinations intended to help people who otherwise would not be able to afford items.”
Goodwill Industries International’s Achiever of the Year is a person who has shown great progress and accomplishment in overcoming challenges to finding employment, and who still benefits from the Goodwill work environment or receives services to support employment at a community site.