JoshStrong efforts benefit West Ala. soccer player paralyzed in crash

Photo from University of West Alabama

A British-born soccer player for the University of West Alabama was paralyzed in a car crash in Tuscaloosa.

Josh Gurvitz was a passenger in the vehicle early on Nov. 5. He suffered a broken neck and spinal cord injury, and is paralyzed from the chest down.

A former student at JFS in London, the largest Jewish school in Europe, Josh moved to Daphne, Ala., in 2009, a year after his father, Phil, took a position there with Airbus.

A junior at West Alabama, Josh is currently in intensive care at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. This week, he battled a bout of pneumonia, and then had an infection.

Phil said they hope to get him off the ventilator in the coming days, then move him to a physical therapy ward, followed by rehab.

“Things are moving in the right direction, but very slowly,” he said.

Several efforts are underway to help the family with expenses during the healing and recovery. A JoshStrong GoFundMe page has already raised close to $10,000.

His uncle in England, Ray, started a UK online campaign. He told the Jewish News “If I could replace him, step into his shoes, take the pain away from him I would do, but all I can do is try to raise money for his future needs.” He plans to run 12 marathons in the next year to raise funds, and selling sponsorship space on his clothes and body for the marathons.

As of Nov. 25, the online site had raised over 3000 British Pounds.

Daphne High School is hosting a fundraising event, Kicking for Josh, that will include two Baldwin County alumni versus coaches soccer games, on the football field on Dec. 17, starting at 2 p.m.

Josh started playing soccer at age 6, playing for Excel in London until he was 9. He then played for Aldenham Athletic until he was 13, winning Golden Boot for two years.

He entered 9th grade in Daphne and joined the varsity soccer team, becoming MVP of the Mardi Gras tournament in 2011. He also played club soccer for Blast fc, and was named MVP twice.

In his senior season at Daphne he was named to the All-State team and had career highs of 12 goals and 22 assists.

On Nov. 6, West Alabama defeated West Florida on penalty kicks for their third consecutive Gulf South Conference championship. Head coach Matthew Thorne said “I’m so pleased with every one of the players, but more importantly, this win was for Josh Gurvitz, Eric Rivera and Trigg Langner.”

Phil said Josh was able to watch the game on television. After the victory, some of the players wore his jersey when they went to get the trophy. “This is a very tight-knit soccer team,” he said.

They brought the trophy to his hospital, where it still sits.

His sister, Rianna, graduated from West Alabama last spring after playing soccer there for four years.

“Everyone has been so kind here,” Phil said. “Couldn’t ask for better people.”