Sam doesn’t remember much about his accident in 2013. He’d had his 600cc motorcycle for two months, was still on L-plates, and was loving every minute of it. Out one day on a long ride, heading home to Wollongong, the accident happened. From there, everything is hazy; a helicopter ride over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, arriving at Royal North Shore Hospital and being quickly shunted into an MRI machine, intense pain. He was 22 years’ old at the time.
Sam's journeySam doesn’t remember much about his accident in 2013. He’d had his motorcycle for two months and was loving every minute of it. Now Sam wants to show people “that a bad injury doesn’t mean you can’t do amazing things”.
Sam spent three months in hospital. The enormity of what had happened – he was now a T10 complete paraplegic, with the inability to use the lower half of his body – took a few days to sink in. Sam’s memory of that specific moment, when he realised his life would never be the same and that he needed a goal to strive for, is crystal clear.
“I said to Dad, ‘I’m going to ski for Australia and get to the Olympics’,” he recalls saying. His father replied: “Let’s just get you out of hospital first”.
"We went up to my spinal doctor and he said it's probably not the best idea to go skiing this year", Sam recalls. "I went skiing anyway".
Sam’s main goal has been to get back on the snow. He was an advanced skier before his injury and his parents own a ski lodge in Perisher. After a few modifications, like ramps and rails, Sam was able to visit. Ensconced in the family ski lodge, with easy access to the snow, and using a specially designed ski chair, he was able to advance his skill and strength. The 2014 ski season was a turning point. At season’s end, the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) suggested he go to Japan and get a custom sit-ski bucket made. The 2015 season presented a chance to test it out.
"I don't feel like I'm disabled when I'm skiing, I feel like I'm on the same playing level as everyone else", Sam said.
By early 2016, Sam was in Colorado with the Paralympic development team. It was a tough and exciting physical regime. He came back to Australia more motivated than ever.
The 2018 Winter Games are in South Korea. Sam is pushing hard to qualify, but thinks the 2022 Games are more realistic. From now on, it’s an intensive regime of cross-fit gym training to increase his strength and endurance, competing in the regional Cross-fit Games (adaptive division), and continuing to ski like crazy.
Without the support given by icare lifetime care, Sam says there is no way he would have come so far.
"I have been with icare for about three and a half years now and they have supported me through icare lifetime care. Their support has been overwhelming and out of this world. I definitely wouldn't be where I am today without them."
icare lifetime care has paid for ski lessons, his custom-made sit-ski bucket, physiotherapy and exercise programs, everything to do with his wheelchair, car modifications to his new van, and funding for modifications to his new house. icare lifetime care has also supported Sam to find a new vocational option by paying course fees for a Certificate 4 in Access Consulting, which he completed this year.
“I was always an outdoors kind of person,” he reflects. “A go-get-it kind of person, but having this injury makes me push harder. I want to show people that a bad injury doesn’t mean you can’t do amazing things. You can still do pretty much everything else that other people do. Before the accident, I could never have imagined that I would be doing what I’m doing now. To be able to get back out on the slopes and ski has changed my way of life, my outlook on life incredibly.
icare lifetime care supports over 1,100 people severely injured in motor accidents in NSW.
icare will be there for Sam, for life.