“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.” – William Arthur Ward
May 7, 2004 was the day William Joseph Thomas’ life changed completely. He was an innocent bystander in a shooting incident that took place at Randallstown High School, in Baltimore, MD. As a result, the onetime three-sport athlete was left paralyzed from injuries sustained from the shooting. Some would describe him, then, as a victim. Today, William J. Thomas, affectionately known to many as “Tipper,” can no longer be described as a victim. William is a humanitarian, a philanthropist, an entrepreneur, an engineer and most importantly incredibly resilient.
William has always been a highly ambitious, motivated young man. Despite not being able to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing collegiate football for his beloved Alma mater, he graduated from the illustrious Morgan State University in May of 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. He is currently working on his Master’s degree in Technical Management at John’s Hopkins University while employed at Northrop Grumman Corporation as a Systems Engineer.
He is an active mentor and community service leader. William believes in speaking out on urban community health issues (domestic violence, mental health, race relations etc.), speaking against youth violence, and promoting STEM education. He is also an advocate for people who live with disabilities regarding public policy, diversity and inclusion. He has been featured on panels with several professional athletes from the NBA, WBNA, and NFL, as well as public celebrities.
William’s personal mission is to tell his story with hopes of motivating people of all ages, races and backgrounds. “There are times in life when it seems hard to actually affirm that you can make it; that you can actually overcome those obstacles and attain that new height. However, if you decide that you want it, nothing will stop you from doing it – regardless of physical ability, level of education, or environmental circumstances.” Tipper says.