16 Year Old Started Foundation Helping Buy Prosthetics

Official CNN Transcripts: (original here)

[14:46:53] BALDWIN: Just talking to my next guest here. We are live. It is election year. One priority for a number of Americans is health care. That’s been the priority for Jordan Thomas, who, at age 16, was in a boating accident and lost both of his legs.

Here we were.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN (voice-over): The family’s annual boating trip went terribly wrong. Just hours after these photos were taken, Jordan jumped into the ocean to test the waters.

JORDAN THOMAS, FOUNDER, JORDAN THOMAS FOUNDATION: The wake pushed me behind the boat. I remember just being underneath the boat and hearing the motor go. I knew immediately what had happened. I looked down, my black fins were all gone. All I saw was just red everywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Spent a big of time with Jordan and his family back in 2009, telling his story, how, at age 16, he made had his mission to help kids whose parents just couldn’t afford to buy prosthetics. He started at 16 the Jordan Foundation.

We traveled to Capitol Hill together as he pounded on the doors, demanding change. He went on to be honored as a “CNN Hero.”

I haven’t seen this guy in nine years. He just sat down next to me. Being honored tonight by the Yankees!

Jordan Thomas, so good to see you!

THOMAS: So good to see you.

BALDWIN: First of all, we’ll get to more of your story. But what is a southern boy doing at a Yankees game? THOMAS: That’s a good question. I grew up a braves fan my entire

life. Now I switched over to the dark side, so to speak. Now I am a Yankees fan. They heard about the foundation. They just called and said can you send some logos so Joe Girardi can wear them. I said I’d rather come.

BALDWIN: Ice Cube came and he brought three. You’re rolling deep today.

(LAUGHTER)

THOMAS: We roll deep. That’s how we do it.

BALDWIN: I saw you in 2000. I remembered we talked to Senator Corker, your Senator in Tennessee. You really cared. You visited the wing in the hospital when you lost your legs in the accident. You saw kids whose parents couldn’t afford it and you wanted to do something about it. Where have you been since?

THOMAS: Absolutely. I’ve been all over world. Right now I’m absolutely devoting my life to this. I’m committed to this to give kids access because I know what that can do for humanity. I’m fired up. I’m committed to it.

BALDWIN: I was reading something you told me when we were on Capitol Hill in 2009. Again, here we are on the precipice. This is a mega election and health care is a key piece of that. You said at the time, to me, it is not a red state issue or blue state issue, it is an ethical issue.

THOMAS: Absolutely. I mean it absolutely is. That’s something that there is bipartisan support. Children deserve access to quality health care. I don’t think anyone can refute that. Prosthetics is a huge component of that. I see that every day in my foundation. I see the impact. It is such a gift for me to give back to them and see them grow and become happy, productive members of society that are joyful, productive people. If that’s not something you can get behind, then I don’t know what is.

[14:50:06] BALDWIN: When it comes to health care, this was way pre- Obamacare when we were in D.C. Are you paying close attention to the election and how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are talking health care?

THOMAS: Yeah, not really. I actually tend to stay away from the election. It is so vitriolic and charged. But it is something that’s imperative. It is something that we have to address especially in the amputee community because obviously the insurance industry is why my foundation exists because of the way the industry is.

My first pair of legs were $24,000. And kids are outgrowing them every 18 to 24 months. Imagine the burden on families. Right now is to start to address that.

BALDWIN: Beyond the Yankees game tonight, you’re going global with the Jordan Thomas Foundation. What’s the next thing? THOMAS: Continue to make an impact in the lives of others and

continue to do that and blow it up on a global scale. It is not just about the U.S. anymore for me. It is about impact the lives globally.

BALDWIN: Final question. I remember when we first met and we went out to some area of Tennessee. I remember this little boy was showing me off his leg. He was so excited because it was bending. I think it was above the knee. Just tell me a story. What’s the best thing any young person has ever said to you when they realize you’ve been able to help them and their family?

THOMAS: That’s tough. Just that I’m their hero.

BALDWIN: Wow.

THOMAS: That’s like — to really allow that and let that sink in for someone to say you’re their hero. It is completely reciprocated for me. I feel like I’m the one given the gift to help them and get them through difficult times. We just paid for Noah to take hip-hop dance classes. He’s on to big are around better things.

BALDWIN: Go, Noah.

THOMAS: Go, Noah. Go, boy.

BALDWIN: Jordan Thomas, thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Since 2009. You look good.

Jordan Thomas Foundation, if you want more information.