By DANIEL KITTREDGE Theron Maynard emerged from a life-changing car accident in 2015 with a new understanding of purpose-driven living. Now, as the 19-year-old prepares to self-publish his first book, he sees storytelling and creativity as essential
Theron Maynard emerged from a life-changing car accident in 2015 with a new understanding of purpose-driven living.
Now, as the 19-year-old prepares to self-publish his first book, he sees storytelling and creativity as essential parts of both his present and future.
“I’ve always been a creative person, but I came out [of the accident] just with a sprawling creativity,” he said during a recent interview.
He added: “I’ve always said, and people look at me like I have three heads when I say this, it was honestly a blessing in disguise. It made my life better.”
As an eighth-grader at Western Hills Middle School, Maynard sustained a traumatic brain injury as a result of a car accident in Garden City. After being rushed to Hasbro Children’s Hospital and being put into a medically induced coma, he began a long road to recovery at Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Boston.
Maynard continues to experience some physical limitations as a result of his injury, but said: “I don’t roll over to those limitations … I don’t like to use that word ‘can’t’ as part of my vocabulary.”
After graduating from Cranston High School West, he applied to 12 colleges and was accepted to eight. He chose to attend Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, although he is presently taking a gap year – partly due to health concerns related to the pandemic, but also to focus on what has become the centerpiece of his new creative quest.
Maynard’s first novel, titled “Live and Let Die,” began as a short story assignment in a high school creative writing class. Its titled came from a lyric in a song he was listening to while composing the story.
“I had no plans of turning it into a book at that point,” he said. “But then as I sat on it and went through senior year, graduated, I was like, you know what? This is too good to throw away.”
The tale the book tells, Maynard said, is a fictional “love story” at its core – but it goes well beyond that, incorporating elements of his own experience and exploring “the fragility of life and redemption.”
Maynard said storytelling “became a way of life” and a means of “therapy” during his high school years. That has continued, he said, with the process of writing “Live and Let Die” providing an outlet and a source of solace during the uncertainty of the last several months.
In a 2018 interview with the Herald, Maynard reflected on his life before the accident – a time, he said, when he was a “punk,” a young man who skipped school and “had no respect for anybody.” After he began to walk again, he said at the time, he embraced a radically different outlook: “Every moment is precious because tomorrow is never promised.”
During the recent interview, Maynard said he views his journey after the accident as a search for higher purpose. Even as that search continues, he said, he knows that writing is “an integral part to that.” He plans to self-publish the book – which is currently being reviewed by an editor – through Amazon on Dec. 1, followed by work on a prequel starting in January. Long interested in filmmaking, he also hopes to work on screenplays.
There are other components of Maynard’s renewed sense of purpose, too – raising awareness of traumatic brain injuries and helping to support the medical community that played such an important role in his own recovery.
Just months after his accident, Maynard was invited to share his story at Brown University Medical School and in other settings. He said he finds it rewarding to share his story, with a focus on both his own path to recovery and the diverse range of challenges those with traumatic brain injuries can experience.
“I’ve always liked the idea of using my tragedy as a base to kind of promote positive vibes or positivity, and just raise awareness for TBI in general, because not a lot of people now about traumatic brain injuries,” he said, adding: “It’s not linear all the way through. It’s very different for everyone.”
Maynard credits the medical professionals who over saw his care and rehabilitation, including those at Hasbro, with helping him “every step of the way.” That includes his emotional recovery.
“Everybody I came into contact with … are just phenomenal people, just amazing human beings that I’m fortunate to know,” he said.
He specifically mentioned Dr. Jonathan Schiller, an orthopedic surgeon at Hasbro, as an “amazing guy” and someone with whom he has stayed in touch.
“He told me really, sincerely, that he’s proud of me,” Maynard said.
Maynard will be part of the upcoming 16th annual Hasbro Children’s Hospital Radiothon, which runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17. The event is traditionally held in April but was delayed this year due to the pandemic. It typically raises more than $400,000 to support the hospital’s patient care, programs and research.
The Radiothon will be broadcast on multiple radio stations, including 92 PRO-FM, Lite Rock 105, News Talk 630 & 99.7 WPRO, and Hot 106. To donate, listeners can call 1-855-999-KIDS (5437), text HASBRO to 66683 or visit hchradiothon.org.
“Hasbro Children’s Hospital is such an integral part of my life … The people, docs, therapists – everyone – will forever be a part of me, and Radiothon is a way for me to help pay forward what they did for me,” Maynard said.
He added: “I’m just extremely fortunate for all of it.”