Swinson may be physically disabled, but he is determined to spread his love for the Lord everywhere he goes.
As a lifelong member of Lisbon Street Missionary Baptist Church, he has done everything possible to show his enthusiasm for the Jesus Christ; he was even named a deacon in 1995.
Swinson stressed that he is honored to be recognized by his church in this capacity.
“I am not worthy of this honor but pray that I grow into your trust as an officer of this great church,” Swinson said to his church family when he was selected.
However, life has not always put him in the easiest set of circumstances. In 2006, he found himself lying on the ground at the post office, unable to move.
“I was sitting in the post office, waiting for a ride home,” said Swinson. As he waited, he explained that his legs suddenly became numb.
“I just felt that I was slipping,” said Swinson. From this one experience, Swinson found out that he was severely diabetic and facing a serious injury to his spinal record as a result of the diabetic spinal cord disease.
This one event lead to him facing a new direction of life as a paraplegic, but while his mobility has changed, his motivation for life and the Lord has not wavered.
When anyone meets him, he is quick to admit where most of his enthusiasm comes from his mother and father, Willard E. Swinson, who was a negro league baseball player, jazz musician and a World War II veteran, and Meldin Vernell Bennett Swinson, who was a school teacher with Clinton City Schools.
In fact, his mother was so inspiring to him that he even went to the same university as she, Winston-Salem State University.
“I wanted to follow in her footsteps,” said Swinson.
Swinson describes his family as a tight-knit group that knew the value in a dollar and hard days work.
“We were not rich or well to do but tremendously blessed ...,” Swinson explained.
Prior to graduating from Wiston-Salem State, he was also a proud Dark Horse, having graduated from Clinton High in 1972. He also attended Sampson High School prior to the integration shift in the 1970’s.
Following his schooling, Swinson moved to Baltimore to work at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation as a labor product controller.
“I worked there for one year,” said Swinson.
Still wanting to be part of something bigger and better, Swinson enrolled in the Air Force in 1977. During his service, Swinson managed to be recognized with the highest award given to a soldier during time of peace.
Following his time in the military, he went back to Baltimore to continue his job, but knowing that it wasn’t fulfilling to him, he eventually moved back to North Carolina and became a postal worker. He also excelled at his work as a postal worker, receiving highest award due to his work as a civil servant.
As he began his civil service career, he also started a family, when he married his then wife Jackiel Swinson and had two children, Regima and Nicole.
Throughout this time, he was still devoted to his church, and he credits his parents for this as well.
“My parents had a major role in my life. They encouraged me to get up everyday and do the best that I can. They also inspired me by the type of life they led,” said Swinson explained.
He noted that his parents also influenced his faith, something that has kept him going even now after his accident.
“My faith in God came early in my life,” said Swinson, and when he found himself lying on the floor helpless unable to move after his accident, his beliefs became more powerful.
“I have always had faith, but this reinforced it; this was a test of my faith,” said Swinson with a smile.
He has also found that he can find his own blessings surrounding him, even on the tough days where he spent four months in the hospital and two years in a rehab facility.
“When I was in the (Veterans Adminstration) hospital in Richmond, Va., I saw many paraplegics, and after that, I considered myself very blessed,” Swinson commented.
Throughout all his turmoil, he has remained committed to letting God into his life.
“With God all things are possible,” Swinson noted. In fact, while his doctors have confessed little hope in his ever getting up to walk again, he has found the inner strength the take a few steps with support.
Now, in 2010, he is hoping that his injuries are slowly but surely becoming part of his past, but he has found unique ways to inspire people around him. One way was by creating his column The Deacon’s Corner, which is featured regularly in The Sampson Independent.
Swinson explained that he started his column since he felt that a deacon can also provide the word of God to the people
“I felt that a deacon needed a voice as well,” said Swinson, and he is hopeful that by writing it, he is bringing people closer to God as a result.
He also hopes to inspire other disabled people through his actions and his heartfelt words.
“I want people to know that there are better days ahead. There is no purpose in life unless you help someone,” Swinson noted.
As a result, he said that he also wants to echo the Lord’s strength by encouraging youth.
“I want to continue to help by doing some tutoring and mentoring to youth,” said Swinson.
Due to his belief in the Lord and his faith in his self, he has found that no challenge has ever defeated him.
“You can overcome and be successful,” said Swinson.
While he is encouraging others through his actions and his words, he is also cherishing all that life has to provide him, including spending time with two daughters and friends or taking trips to library or church and other places in his motorized wheelchair, and one day he hopes to get out of that wheelchair permanently and return to work, something he greatly misses.
However, before that happens, his faith in God will carry him onto the next day.
Katie Holland can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 136, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.