Tragedy to triumph: Paralyzed man shares story of hardship, loss, abuse to help others

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NEW CITY -

A former North Rockland teacher-turned-motivational speaker is sharing his story of hardship, loss and domestic abuse in the hope of helping others.

Billy Keenan lost use of his legs and arms in 2013 after a surfing accident. The New City father of two is paralyzed from the neck down.           

But Keenan, a former North Rockland High School history teacher and Army veteran, says the worst was yet to come.

Keenan says when he returned home from rehab, his wife who is a registered nurse, became verbally abusive and neglectful instead of caring for him. He says she ignored his cries for help and stole donations meant to provide for his care.

"All during this time, I had no means of communicating. No way to call for help. Only through her. I was completely isolated,” he says.

Despite his physical and emotional hardships, Keenan managed to briefly return to work teaching in 2015- when he also fired for a divorce.

Keenan says his wife stole close to $1 million.  He says he reported his wife to Rockland authorities, but no charges were ever filed. Years later, he says he's now thousands of dollars in debt with medical expenses and unable to teach, but still doing something he loves.

Keenan now shares his story of hardship as a motivational speaker, speaking to crowds at places like West Point and Fordham University.

 

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