Photo Courtesy of Justin Pasionek ’18 | Justin Pasionek ’18 lectors during the Father Son communion breakfast Nov. 12, 2016. Pasionek got involved in many clubs and organizations on campus after breaking his leg freshman year.
By Michael Taszarek ’18
Everyone may not know him by name, but every member of the class of 2018 remembers the student who was in a wheelchair his freshman year.
Justin Pasionek ’18 was in the wheelchair for about half a year while recovering from a gruesome injury.
“Going into freshman year, I played football all summer,” Pasionek said reflecting on his injury. “The week before school, on our very first official practice of the season, I was doing a simple cutting drill I had done a hundred times, except this time when I planted my left foot to cut right, I broke my femur. It turned out that I had an excess of fibroma on the bone that caused it to become extremely weak.”
Many juniors who played football their freshman year said they remember Pasionek getting injured, including Christian Cardenas ’18.
“It was weird,” Cardenas said when asked about Justin’s injury. “I was right in front of him when it happened. I was very confused because it happened so fast I had no time to process it.”
Pasionek had surgery to remove the tumor and to reset his femur.
In addition to the physical recovery, the injury was also difficult mentally for Pasionek to overcome.
“I became pretty depressed after my injury,” Pasionek said. “All of my hard work was for nothing, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to play again. It was really tough, but I learned that there wasn’t anything I could do to change it, so I just sucked it up and kept on living.”
The injury opened up many new opportunities for Pasionek, as his schedule that was once full of sports was suddenly pretty open.
“I thought my schedule was going to be filled with sports, so I had a lot of free time after my injury,” Pasionek said. “Originally, I wasn’t going to run for Student Council because I’m a pretty shy person, but Mr. Mendoza forwarded me the link and told me that I should run.”
Cardenas has also noticed Pasionek’s embracing of new opportunities.
Pasionek is not only respected by his fellow classmates, but also by his former teachers.
Mr. Jose Mendoza ’88, a Spanish teacher, taught Pasionek his freshman year.
“I had the great pleasure of teaching him during his freshman year,” Mr. Mendoza said. “Even among a great class, Justin consistently stood out as a top, exemplary student. I recall vividly how he would come to class daily with a smile and a positive attitude. Justin continues being one of Brophy’s all-around finest young men. He’s an effective leader and a superb role model for our younger students.”
Pasionek has used his time to become very involved in the Brophy community.
“I’m involved in Mock Trial, Key Club, Red and White, Best Buddies, NHS and the Big Brother Program,” Pasionek said.
Even though he is no longer in a wheelchair, Pasionek is still very visible around campus, and friends say the work that he puts in is of great benefit to the Brophy community.
“I’ve been friends with Justin since before arriving at Brophy, and he has always done the most he can for whichever community we were a part of,” Cardenas said. “Even with his injury, Justin wanted to do and has done everything he can for other people.”