A Leg Up: Destin community bands together to help family in need

Savannah Vasquez
Standing on the Destin docks, Jason Goforth shows off his new prosthetic leg that he helped design. “I can’t wait until I can get back to working with my family on the boardwalk,” he said. “To working back on the boats.”

Sitting beside the Destin harbor, Jason Goforth is thankful. He may get some odd looks for his bright blue, fish patterned prosthetic leg, but he just lets that roll off his back. After a year that left his life turned upside down and backwards he has finally made it home to Destin, and he is here to stay.

A Life Changing Experience

Rewind to January 25, 2014; Goforth was living the high life as a sponsored freestyle snowboarder, traveling from state to state to compete in winter sports competitions. He enjoyed his life and never would have guessed that on one fateful day it would change forever.

“I went off a jump wrong and landed up in a tree that broke my leg in 10 places,” said Goforth.

The accident eventually resulted in Goforth losing his left leg from the knee down, his snowboarding sponsorships, and his livelihood.

“I was in the hospital with no where to go,” he said. “I felt like, ‘Why am I here?’ and ‘Why am I going through this?’ I felt worthless. I didn’t have insurance so I had to sell everything to survive.”

Left in the lurch, Goforth lost his house in Tennessee, his condo in Destin, and most of his possessions were sold to help cover medical costs and living expenses. The only saving grace, Goforth said, was that in the process of recovery he met his girlfriend Nicole and her six-year-old son Xzaiden. The three bonded, and soon made plans to start a new life together.

“I couldn’t clean, I couldn’t move, but this girl pushed me around in a wheel chair for a year,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here. God put them in my life.”


After recovery, the new family packed up everything and headed to the one place Goforth felt he could call home; Destin. Goforth told The Log that before his snowboarding career, he had lived in Destin, working as a boat mechanic on the harbor. He knew he had a handful of genuine friends in the fishing community, and felt it was the only place he could go to restart his life.

 “It’s all about Destin,” Goforth said. “This place is what put me on the map. I came back to where I was successful.”

However, the transition was not easy. Goforth and his family found themselves living in hotels, spending all the money they had with them just to make ends meet, and finally relying on the goodwill of others. Goforth did not have a leg, and could not find a job, and living in limbo made everything harder. But the little family did not loose hope, and Goforth said that through the hard times he found giving hearts all over Destin.

“In February we came to Destin and were living from hotel to hotel,” said Goforth. “We had nothing, but people I knew from before were asking, ‘How can we help,’ and ‘How can we get you a leg?’”

Giving Community

Goforth said that once the word got out that he was back and that he had extreme circumstances, people all over the Emerald Coast jumped into action.

“Once people heard about it, everybody wanted to get on board,” said Goforth. “I earned a lot of loyalty and trust when I worked here before, and I guess they felt they wanted to give back.”

The ball really got rolling last week, as Goforth said in a matter of days he was getting calls from all over the area from people offering to help him find a prosthetic leg, housing arrangements, job opportunities for him and his girlfriend, and even a call from a military serviceman offering to upgrade his prosthetic foot to a more efficient one.

“It was like a train,” said Goforth. “Everybody wanted to help.”

All told, Goforth said he can only pin down a few individuals, businesses and organizations that have given to his cause, as most wish to remain anonymous, but he said he will be forever grateful to all that gave and feels indebted to the entire Emerald Coast community.

Among those Goforth could attribute to procuring his prosthetic leg and foot were Destin United Methodist Church, Coastline Calvary Chapel, Others of Destin Inc., The Blue Door Ministry at St. Andrews By-The-Sea Episcopal Church, Hope Clinic in Destin, Hanger Clinic in Fort Walton Beach, HarborWalk Village, Costa, Pelagic Gear, Screaming Eagle Sports, Bow’d Up Charters and military veteran John Goudie.

 “I want to know who has helped me, but I can tell you this; all these people were working together,” said Goforth. “They didn’t have to help me, but look what they have done for my family.”

HarborWalk Village Marketing and Public Relations Officer Jamie Hall said that for their part, it was just the right thing to do.

“Our community is really giving,” she said. “It’s a small community, and we want to do the right thing. In a tight knit community we can come together. There is not a reason a family should go without, there are more than enough resources in Destin.”

Lisa Hurt of the Screaming Eagle Sports said they were more than happy to help with such a great family and cause.

“We actually met him down here on the docks and discovered that he’s from the same area we are from Tennessee,” she said. “We started a conversation with him, and found out his need for a leg, and it kind of just went from there. He and his family are just some of the nicest people we ever met.”

A Life Changed

Last Friday, Goforth received his new prosthetic leg, in the presence of his Destin friends and family. He said that the feeling he experienced when he got up and walked for the first time, was indescribable joy.

 “Since the day I got my leg Friday, I’ve been speechless,” he said. “I just want to thank everyone who’s been involved. I just want to thank everybody, not just for the leg, but for everything. Everybody chipped in like a community; they just did it out of their hearts.”