From the judges: A mesmerizing and hauntingly beautiful story about a young man’s arduous recovery after being engulfed in a motorcycle accident fire. The writer spent seven months tracking the patient’s progress while working on the piece, and her dedication to telling the story comes through in her prose.
Man on Fire
Writing > Feature
Institution: Emory University
Title of entry: Man on Fire
About this entry: For Jalen Richardson, there was never an awareness of being engulfed by fire, only the roar of a hard, driving wind. But the paramedics who responded to the call of his motorcycle accident knew the 20-year-old was lucky to be alive — an explosion and towering flames had literally melted his riding gear to the highway. Assessing his injuries, Emory surgeon Juvonda Hodge would discover third degree burns covering 60-70 percent of his body. This article follows Richardson's excruciating year-long healing journey, aided by Emory experts in the complex science of burn care. But at its heart, this is also a story about the power of relationships — and the surprising places a broken young man found the connection, support and motivation to keep moving forward.
We take readers inside Richardson's long, arduous trek toward recovery and the critical work that goes on every day at The Grady Burn Center, the only comprehensive burn center in Atlanta and one of the most highly rated in the nation. Led by Emory trauma surgeon Walter Ingram, the burn center treats some 3,500 adult and pediatric burn patients each year and teaches the next generation of healers.