My life, as I live it today, started in 1995 after a horrible motorcycle accident left me paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Fortunately, I survived with the help of angels who came to my rescue including paramedics and the great doctors and nurses who put me back together.
Looking back, even before the accident, events had happened in my life that now make me realize that the religious concept of karma is very real and works in magical ways. You can read more in-depth details of these events in the Rescue, Heroism, Accident, Recovery and Giving Back pages.
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How Body Building Saved My Life
There I was, in a wheelchair in front of a mirror, recently released from Craig Rehabilitation after being paralyzed from the waist down in a horrific motorcycle wreck, about to face the devastation inflicted on my body.
The neurosurgeons, who had rebuilt me, gave me the dire and proverbial prognosis that I “would never walk again and would spend the rest of my life confined to living in a wheelchair”. In truth, at least initially, I respectfully accepted their diagnosis.
Fortunately, I started body building during my freshman year of high school and in doing so, by my senior year I had built a solid physique along with a strong sense of Identity. That same year, I saved four peoples lives who had fallen into a icy lake late at night. As a result, a Resolution was passed in the New York State Senate and other distinguished bodies acknowledging my acts of heroism. Without a doubt, I can state it was a direct result of the body building that I had the strength and endurance to pull the people out of the water and ultimately to safety.
Fast-forward six years later — on a beautiful October afternoon in Colorado while motorcycle riding in the majestic canyon’s above Boulder. While attempting to avoid a patch of gravel, in a split-second I was propelled off a sixty-foot cliff at 80-plus mph. I vividly recall looking down at the tops of trees knowing I was experiencing the last few moments of my life. Seconds later, I regained consciousness face-down in a creek unable to pick myself up or out. In that moment, my life was changed forever and the challenges I would likely face — monumental.
I burst fractured my L1 and T12 vertebrae, fractured my pelvis, broke off my tail bone and broke my right femur — so severely the doctors contemplated amputation. I sustained a severe closed-head injury, was paralyzed from the waist down including other assorted injuries. I spent a month in the hospital and five months in Craig Rehabilitation. I was released back into the world in a wheelchair and left to fend for myself with NO help or further rehabilitation.
Back to the mirror, about to observe the devastation for the first time. I pulled myself up out of the chair and was horrified at the destruction by body and legs had sustained. I was immediately overcome by shock and utter depression. I remember mourning for days and thoughts of suicide were running wild in my mind. Why did this happen, and how will I ever live the life I knew?
Somewhere deep down in me, a calm sense of hope arose. I had spent year and years training with time off in between, and the words MUSCLE MEMORY flashed in my mind bright and vivid as the brightest lights on the Vegas strip!
I had no idea how many years it would take for me to regain my ability to walk or how incredibly difficult the road would be. Regardless, I knew I had my secret weapon for recovery. With my earned knowledge of body building, muscle memory and confidence, I could bring myself back from the brink of total physical destruction and rebuild my body.
The doctors refused me “gating” or walking rehabilitation, as the diagnosis had been I would never walk and would only injury myself even trying, so I was forced to learn how to walk on my own accord. After a year and a half in the wheelchair, I purchased leg braces and arm crutches and would swing my legs like a pendulum through the crutches. I will never forget the agonizing look on my friends faces watching me move through that process. It wasn’t long before I fell and ended up back in the hospital for a complete reconstruction of my newly re-broken right femur. I will spare you the horror of that story!
Back into the wheelchair I went, however, as my inherent determination would have it, after a few months I strapped back on the leg braces and grabbed the arm crutches. It was a slow process getting out of the chair until one day I met a paraplegic who had no leg movements and an old decrepit wheelchair. I felt compelled to gift him my chair and take the proverbial giant step forward in my recovery by never sitting back onto a wheelchair… and I never have. As the saying goes, “In life challenges are inevitable, defeat is optional.”
- Body building guided me in my youth to build assured self-confidence along with a strong and respectable physique that would last a lifetime.
- Body building gave me the strength I needed to save the four peoples lives.
- Body building gave me the personal power to save my life that fateful day and rebuild a body doctors said was lost. Like the most loyal supportive friend ever, body building has never let me down, never turned me away.
- Body building says to me… I am here for you!… I will always be here for you!… I am here for you always so you can be the strongest human you can be! — mentally, emotionally and physically.
In retrospect, I wish I had been more consistent with my training. After a few year sabbatical in my late 30’s I became very over-weight and my pain level had become debilitating. I knew I had the knowledge and skill to rebuild my body once again and overcome the pain. I also knew if I did not grab control over my body, my life would be unbearable. Once I started body building again consistently, I began to notice how the endorphins would kick in and my pain level would drop to near zero! Later after the workout, my pain would return, but I noticed each day I trained my pain level would drop significantly. Now I train six to seven days a week and I am nearly pain free!
The consensus of opinions of those who hear my story is that my life is a miracle and God has a purpose for me — I believe both to be true. Now the time has come for me to share my story of successfully overcoming one of the greatest challenges one could ever face and inspire those who are in need of inspiration while spreading the importance of body building and proper nutrition.
If I had the chance to turn back the years and offer myself some solid advice, I would say to never, ever believe any negative input on my recovery, to fully believe in my ability to completely heal and fully regain my mobility, and achieve any goal I set my mind to. Even now, I have to disregard my own beliefs on what I perceive to be achievable. My recovery has taught me the power of the mind is the primary determining factor in any outcome!
Winners are not people who never fail — they are people who never quit!
We all must have dreams and they are only dreams until we take actions to make those dreams a reality! The neurosurgeons who performed my operation diagnosed me to never walk again — I will never forget the night the doctor levied the diagnoses of paralysis and the feeling of despair that followed.[quote style=”3″]Being challenged in life is inevitable — being defeated is optional![/quote]
Fortunately, I have proven the neurosurgeons absolutely wrong. Not only do I walk, run and leg press 1/4-ton (500 lbs.), but my dream is to bicycle and weight train across America from gym to gym to raise money and awareness for the doctors who are on the cutting edge of repairing damaged spinal cords.
I want to kick-start my journey by training with my all-time hero Lou Ferrigno then at the end of the journey train with Kai Green on the East Coast. In between, I would like to go on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and for the first time meet the four people I saved and meet the two heroes who saved my life, as I have never met any of them face-to-face.
My determined goal and ultimate dream is to see paralysis come to an end in my lifetime.
In life, it is not what happens to you that matters — what truly matters is your attitude and what you choose to do about it. I choose to take what very well could be perceived as a horrible accident/injury and turn it into the most positive reflection of my life.[quote style=”3″]Dreams at first seem impossible, then seem improbable, then when we finally commit ourselves become inevitable. –Mahatma Gandhi[/quote]
Your life is your message to the world — make sure it’s inspiring, dream it, wish it… then DO IT! We are all much stronger than we think!
- To promote motivational/inspirational video(s) while helping to encourage those who are facing obstacles and challenges in their lives and to stand as proof that we can beat any odds no matter how great.
- Allow my actions to speak louder than my words and be a positive influence in people lives, while promote healing on a global scale.
- My extended mission will be to gain sponsorships and to set up a fundraiser. I will bicycle across the United States to raise money for spinal cord research and for those with spinal cord injuries donations will be funneled to Doctors who are on the leading edge to creating a cure.
- I will dedicate my time and life to building a alternative rehabilitation clinic that will provide individuals with post-spinal cord injuries services that combine both Western and Eastern medicines with a correct health and balanced diet program.
Live Well and Be Well,