After more than two years working as a weekend day-break anchor in Nashville, Tenn., Donovan Long was involved in a car accident that changed his life.
At first, doctors didn’t know exactly what to diagnose Long with. He didn’t know when he would be able to walk again, play basketball with his boys again or if he would be able to return to the anchor desk. Despite all of this confusion, there was one thing that he was certain of: He needed to stay faithful.
“I felt like I was at my lowest point and the only way I could look was up. I felt like God was the only person I could depend on. My family and friends have been extremely supportive, but there is only a certain amount of strength you can pull from them and the rest has to come from God,” Long said. “There were times I would lash out at my family and friends, but I was able to maintain a sense of normalcy from my faith in Jesus.”
Long was later diagnosed with functional neurological disorder, a condition where the body is unable to send and receive neurological signals. Once he was diagnosed, it allowed doctors to find the best therapist to help treat his condition and get him back to full mobility.
While in therapy, he had to learn how to walk again. During that time he was incredibly dependent on his parents and grandparents who stood by his side his entire journey.
“I’m a very independent guy, so just to rely on everybody else just to get up and get a bag a chips, or to get from the bedroom to the kitchen, that was pretty hard to deal with,” Long said.
Throughout his journey, Long put his journalist skills to use by creating the #FreeTheLegs movement as a way to tell his story. Long would post updates on milestones that brought him a step closer to being fully rehabilitated with #FreeTheLegs at the end of the post.
He wasn’t initially open to telling his story, but after a push from a co-worker, Long knew it was something he needed to do.
“I was very private when I first got into the accident. I was private about emotionally and mentally and I didn’t want to talk about it. A friend of mine told me because I tell other people’s stories for a living, I needed to tell my own.”
It took 11 months for Long to regain control over his body and be able to walk again. To make the one year anniversary of his car accident, Long got back behind the desk in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he now works as a weekend anchor with the CBS affiliate, WOOD TV8.
Long is a two-time Emmy and Associated Press award-winning journalist. He graduated summa cum laude from Florida A&M University’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication in 2015, held down the FAMU News 20 @ 5 anchor desk for two semesters and also produced a 15-minute-long documentary for J-School Journals.
Long is a fall 2014 Initiate of the Beta Nu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and a member of the National Association of Black Journalist.
Orlin St. Surin, one of Long’s line brothers, describes him as a notable man.
“Donovan is a man filled with joy. He is a motivator and is never hesitant to give a helping hand. His faith in God is strong, he’s a lovable guy and I am proud to call him my brother.”
Dan Boers, the news director at WOOD TV8, tweeted Long is “a positive force who has had quite the journey.”
Long’s journey has not only built his character as a person but also enhanced him as a journalist. Moving forward, he now believes his experience with his accident allows him to relate to people in more ways, and it enables him to talk about different strengths and weaknesses that life throws at us.