Jason Koger never imagined he could be a motivational speaker, but when circumstances put him in that position, he found his voice.
Koger will be speaking at TEDxEvansville on Nov. 8. The focus of this TED talk is titled “Change.” Presenters will focus on community developments, personal growth triumphs and struggles as well as opportunities to create a better tomorrow, according to the TedXEvansville Facebook event page.
In 2008, the ATV Koger was driving struck a downed, live power line. Koger’s injuries were so severe he was flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. When he woke after three days in a coma, Koger learned doctors had amputated both of his arms below the elbow, making him a bilateral arm amputee and the first bilateral amputee to be fitted with multi-articulated bionic hands.
Since the accident, Koger has taken on the mission of sharing his story while relearning life skills. He has spoken with other amputees and volunteered with the Arms Within Reach Foundation. He has appeared on CNN with medical reporter Sanjay Gupta as well as in an Apple commercial.
He has also found time to star in an episode of “Hawaii Five-O” in 2013.
Koger caught the attention of the Evansville-based TEDx and was approached by someone while speaking at a health care event. He contacted the company to see what he needed to do to be part of the panel, and after completing the requirements, including a small testimonial speech, he was asked to be on the panel for Change.
“It’s a great opportunity to share my story and I hope someone will see it [live or on YouTube],” Koger said. “It will be a good experience for me.”
Koger has spoken about his near-fatal injuries and his choice to never give up on national stages, something he laughs about because he said that public speaking was the only class he failed in college.
“When the accident happened, I still didn’t think about it [sharing his story], but now I am comfortable being in front of people,” Koger said. “I like to do more, venture out more.”
Koger credits God, his family and the Owensboro community for his successes. He is the founder of Handing Back, a local nonprofit, and he has spoken at local events about never giving up and said he is interested in speaking more now that he has been told he has a story to share.
“People tell me I speak well, but I know I can get better,” Koger said.
He has spoken with other motivational speakers who have incurred a life-changing injury, including Inquoris “Inky” Johnson, a University of Tennessee football player who lost the ability to use his right arm after a 2006 football injury.
Koger said Johnson told him that Koger’s story is one that is strong and needs to be shared.
“He’s one of the best,” Koger said.
Ticket information for the Nov. 8 talk, which will be held at the University of Evansville, can be found on the TEDxEvansville webpage.