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Man paralyzed from chest down uses exoskeleton suit to get down on one knee & propose to girlfriend

Josh Smith knew a year into dating Grace Thompson that he wanted her in his life forever. So he started planning his proposal in advance and asked his therapists to help make it possible.

Man paralyzed from chest down uses exoskeleton suit to get down on one knee & propose to girlfriend
Image Source: YouTube/Good Morning America

Josh Smith knew he had to make his proposal to his girlfriend a special affair. He decided to mark this major milestone through a life-altering gesture.

Smith has been a C-6 quadriplegic, unable to walk, since a swimming accident seven years ago. He was paralyzed from the chest down and usually uses a wheelchair to get around. It was impossible for him to be able to get down on one knee to ask his girlfriend, Grace Thompson, to be his wife. But he wanted to surprise Thompson as well as his friends and family by getting down on one knee to pop the question.


Smith managed to do it with the help of an exoskeleton suit. Speaking to Good Morning America he said, "I had this huge idea, and I didn't know if it was even possible because I don't think I've ever seen anybody do it before. So, I reached out to my therapists and told them I wanted to try to get down on one knee to propose, and I was hoping that we could use the exoskeleton to help with that." He was given a go-ahead by his therapists and he got to work to make his proposal memorable for more than just one reason.


Smith and Thompson met on a dating app in 2020, just as the pandemic began. "The pandemic played a huge role in how serious we became because we went on the perfect amount of dates to where we both felt safe and comfortable not being in public anymore," Thompson said. "We were pretty lucky in the timing of it all. It was a lot of game nights with another couple that we got close with during quarantine. We liked to cook dinners together and play games, and it was kind of nice too because, you know, we were still getting to know each other." They found out that they had a lot in common and even attended the same church.


Smith knew a year after dating Thompson that he wanted her in his life forever. He started planning his proposal in advance and on the day of the proposal he arranged for Thompson to get a manicure with a friend and with the help of his therapists, arranged the set-up at home. When Smith got on one knee, Thompson was shocked, overwhelmed, and emotional. "It was really cool that he was able to get on one knee," she said. "But to see him stand up -- I've never seen him stand before, so that was really great and it was really strange too, like, have him hug me standing up! I wish we could do that more!" She obviously said yes and they plan to get married in October next year.


"Everyone deserves love," Smith said. "Sometimes you don't know how it will come but it will always come when you're least expecting it." Smith who was uncertain if he would ever date again after his accident, let alone get married, has now found a life partner in Thompson.

In 2014, when Smith was 23, he was visiting friends at Virginia Beach. He dove into a wave headfirst and slammed into a sandbar. He was instantly paralyzed from the chest down. "It was really scary. Luckily, my friends dragged me out onto the beach and waited for the paramedics to get there," he said about how he was just floating head down in the water.

He was then hospitalized at the Shepherd Center for four months and learned that he would be using a wheelchair for the rest of his life. But in under a year, he made great strides in regaining his independence. "It was kind of just my own drive that really pushed me forward to get independent and learn new things," Smith said. "Help from my parents definitely makes things easier too."


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