So I'm an intern. One minute I was in a college classroom, and now I'm sitting in a cubicle wearing "grown up" clothes. When I first started working with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, I really didn't know what to expect. But in the time I've spent here, I've learned valuable new skills and gained a greater perspective, specifically about spinal cord injuries through some amazing stories.
The Tell Us Your Story Project has been my main responsibility this summer, and I'm really excited to get it out there for you to read. Basically The Project is a compilation of stories that have been submitted online. They put a face and a name to spinal cord injury in an uplifting and inspiring way. The majority clearly emphasize this theme: live life to the fullest. I love how the personal touch of a story makes you feel connected to the narrator. I feel like I've gotten to know the authors of these stories, and now I want you to have a chance to get acquainted with them too.
One of the first stories I came across was that of Chad McCrary. Here he is:
Yea, I know what you're thinking: "He's RIPPED!" Clearly Chad is in tip-top shape and most of you can probably guess that he's a body builder. He was involved in the sport before his injury and refused to let his wheelchair dull his passion. While doctors said that his motorcross accident (which shattered his T-12 of the thoracic vertebra) would greatly limit his physical capabilities, Chad's determined athlete's mindset and devotion to rehab helped him gain back 60lbs of muscle in a short 6 months."When I was still in rehabilitation in-house therapy, the doctors strongly advised me not to lift free weights at all, " explains Chad. " Yeah right! That was a joke for an iron head! I was doing seated shoulder presses with 100lbs dumbbells. I thought my therapist was going to freak out!" Right after that, Chad competed in a body building show in the wheelchair class.
Not only can he lift a massive amount of weight, Chad can also walk independently again. "My recovery has been nothing short of miraculous," he states. "I was told by the entire neurological team that I wouldn't walk independently again. Now I can!"
While he had to change some of his training habits, from the type of lifting he can do to his cardio and nutrition, Chad is clearly getting the results he wants. One of his proudest moments was coming in 2nd place in the 2008 West Palm Beach, FL wheelchair national competition (as shown in the picture).
And for Chad, it's not about his physique, it's more about his mindset. "I think we all have a degree of deep potential that we're not aware of until we are faced with challenges like this," Chad states. "If a person can tap into that, they will be amazed at what they can overcome." Bodybuilding in a wheelchair is not a limitation, but a unique challenge, and Chad is determined to show people that they can overcome their mental limitations. "Get out of your comfort zone. You can't achieve things without taking risks. No big risk... no big payoff."
So maybe we all don't have Chad's amazing physique. But I really like his message: Sometimes, you just have to "go big." Live large. (And no, I'm not talking about your muscles!)
Kasia, the intern.
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Tell us your story
Telling your story is one way to let anyone touched by paralysis know that they are not alone. We've created a place where you can share your journey for your benefit, and the benefit of others. Your story matters. Share it!