Where Are They Now: Justin Strode - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Where Are They Now: Justin Strode

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Busy hands and a busy mind make a busy man.

And that's what Justin Strode has been for four years now.

"Some things we do have to be done by hand,'' said Al Kennickell, president of Kennickell Printing, where Strode works. "Some things can't be automated and when they can't be automated, somebody's got to do it. And he chips in and he's just like everybody else and he does his part.''

Justin, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, started working at Kennickell two days a week shortly after completing Windsor Forest High School, and not long after WTOC introduced him to viewers as a member of the Knights football program.

"Actually,'' said Justin's mother, Esma Campbell, "he still goes to the Windsor Forest games and he and my husband still go on the sidelines.''

That was one opportunity Campbell helped arrange for her son after ensuring that he would attend mainstream schools such as Georgetown Elementary and Windsor Forest.

"All I knew was he has to have the same experiences I had,'' she said. "He has to have every opportunity.''

Those opportunities have continued since high school for Justin, who is now 29.

Judge Louisa Abbott, after seeing WTOC's original story on Justin, worked through the Downtown Rotary to pursue work possibilities for him. And Kennickell Printing came up with a position that has benefited him and the company ever since.

"It goes both ways,'' said Al Kennickell. "We enjoy having him here, everybody enjoys having him here. And the days he is here are days that are just a little bit better for us than the days he's not.''

"He stuffs envelopes. He puts tags on jobs that we have,'' said Joyce Minor, who works alongside Justin. "And he's especially concerned with JCB and Gulfstream. He loves those jobs.''

Minor is Justin's supervisor at Kennickell. And one of his many work friends.

"He brightens the place up because he makes everybody speak,'' she said. "Nobody comes through without saying good-morning to Justin.''

"It's very different than being in a sheltered workshop where everybody there is working with a disability,'' adds Campbell. "That's not the normal way we live. So this is a more normal approach and it's been very fulfilling.''

All Campbell has ever wanted was for her son to live a normal life.

And he does, except he's normally more active than most people. When he's not working, he's doing physical therapy four days a week at the St. Joseph's Candler Wellness Center, or he's doing therapeutic horseback riding, or he's watching an almost endless stream of sports at home.

"I think it's made him happier, I think it's made him maintain his health better,'' said Campbell, who has been told by doctors that it if wasn't for his job and his other activities, Justin would likely be in a wheelchair by now. "I'm sure people in Justin's position could end up with depression and other things that don't make life very fulfilling. And Justin doesn't really have time to sit around and think about those things.''

But Justin and his co-workers at Kennickell keep making time for each other.

And both hope to have much more time together in the future.

"He's been with us for four years, four great years,'' said Minor. "And he does really good, he does really good.''

"We hope,'' adds Al Kennickell, "that he's here for a long, long time to come.''

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