Our Team

Our Team is made of rare individuals who have chosen to make a difference by helping others. Love that. You will not find a better staff in the world, you are in great hands with our certified activity based trainers!

 

Paul Pickard

FOUNDER

It was two weeks before our oldest son Chris’ graduation from Lambert High School and the night before prom…an exciting time of year for a senior. On Friday evening May 13, 2011 at 10:20pm we received a phone call and learned he had possibly been in an automobile accident. We arrived to the scene of police cars, fire trucks and ambulances, and were relieved as we did not see his truck. Within seconds, through the flashing lights, we caught a glimpse of our son lying on a stretcher and found out that he was a passenger in an automobile that had crashed into the nearby brick sign. He had sustained a burst fracture to his C6 vertebrae and would need surgery right away to relieve pressure on his spinal cord.

All of a sudden, our world was turned upside down and, after spending a week in ICU at North Fulton Regional Hospital, we were on our way to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Our son was a quadriplegic and we would find out over the next three months, exactly what that meant. We were bombarded with the reality that there is much more to a spinal cord injury than being paralyzed and in a wheelchair. While at the Shepherd Center our son learned how to function in a wheelchair, and we were educated on how to live with a spinal cord injury. All the while, we were wondering, “Where do we go next?” as our goal was for him to walk again. After much prayer, hours of research and the discovery of a friend, we believe God led us to a center in California. We had visited several facilities while researching our options and, without a doubt, we knew this was where he needed to be. For the first time since his accident, we were filled with hope. It felt like the ball was finally in our court, and our son would have the opportunity to work toward gaining optimum recovery and the arduous goal of walking again someday. 

Through God’s provision and the generous support of family, friends, and even strangers in our community, Chris’ dad Paul, and Chris, spent seven weeks in California and our experience exceeded ALL of our expectations. We were very encouraged as Paul and Chris met people who had been told in traditional therapy that they would never walk again, but after Chris experienced amazing results, they were proving them wrong. 


Tony Davenport

Program director

Spinal Cord Injury Specialist, Clinical Exercise Physiologist, B.S. in Physical, Education, M.S. in Exercise Science. Certified Spinal Cord Injury Specialist. Certified F.E.S. Technician, Locomotor 

Training: Principles and Practice Certified, Special Populations Certified, Sports Medicine Specialist Certified, Medical Fitness Certified, Kinetic Anatomy Specialist, Disabled Sports Specialist 

Tony graduated from California University of Pennsylvania with a Master’s degree in Exercise Science focusing on Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention. Prior to that, he earned a Bachelors in Physical Education from the University of Arizona. His background includes working at First Step Physical Therapy in spinal cord injury recovery in 2008, being formally trained at Project Walk Carlsbad in 2011, eight years of spinal injury experience, and nine years of other rehab and therapeutic exercise modalities. Tony is a martial artist, former prior enlisted officer US Marine of 12 years and has dedicated himself to helping others improve their physical ability. Currently Tony is completing massage therapy school at Atlanta School of Massage and wants to focus on orthopedic neuromuscular therapy and is currently working on his PhD online from Concordia University-Chicago in Health and Human Performance. Tony resides in Marietta with his wife, Sonica, and 6 children. 


Arista Hott

ACTIVITY BASED TRAINER

Arista joined the NextStep Atlanta team in the summer of 2016 after completing her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Valdosta State University. She was a 2-year member of the Women’s Soccer team on campus and was the Marketing Coordinator for Valdosta State’s Exercise Physiology Club and participated in various philanthropy events on campus. She is currently working to become a Registered Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine, and intends on furthering her education at physical therapy school. Arista currently resides in Woodstock.