Hockey wasn’t always my dream. First, it was motocross.
When I was 12 years old I got my first dirtbike and it wasn’t long before I would start to emulate other riders. I would hit jumps and pretend I was going to someday make it to the X Games. Freestyle motocross was my passion, and after 10 years of practice I was finally starting to put on some shows.
On July 15, 2006 I was attending an event in Haliburton, Ontario called Rock the Wake. On my first jump of the day I took a nasty spill and landed without the bike breaking my back, pelvis, and ribs, leaving me lying on the ground unable to move my legs.
I was an incomplete paraplegic.
When I woke up in the hospital the doctors told me I had fractured and dislocated my T12/L1 vertebrae’s and that I would “likely never walk again”. If I did, I would “have braces on my legs up to my hips the rest of my life.”
Well it’s pretty hard to convince someone once their mind is made up. From the moment I heard those words I knew it would be my mission to walk again. With a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work I am here walking every day. Nerve damage leaves me with muscle spasms, atrophy, pain, and pins and needles in my legs. If you ask me however, I don’t regret a thing. I was pursuing my dream.
Here’s the kicker to my story. Believe it or not, my Dad was also paralyzed four years before I was. He and I were deer hunting when he fell out of the tree stand. Dad’s accident crushed his T5, 6, and 7 vertebrae’s leaving him a complete paraplegic just one year from retirement. Dad had a terrible time dealing with his injury and suffered serious depression along with developing a gambling addiction to cope with his injury. Only one year after my injury, in 2007, Dad decided life wasn’t worth living anymore and committed suicide.
It was a rough five years.
My Dad waited and prayed for a cure, while I chose to move on and live. I think the best thing we can do is encourage each other to do both. I believe that finding a cure for spinal cord injuries is possible. Just like walking was for me, it’s not a matter of “If” but “when”. Our minds are made up and we will find a cure!
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