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In My Own Words | By Landon McGauley

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In just a few moments on July 4th 2010 my life completely changed; in one minute I went from an average 15 year old boy completely content and carefree to a torn, beat up kid lying in the dirt completely terrified and uncertain of the future. My name is Landon McGauley and I am one of the three recipients of the Sarah Burke scholarship.  I became a paraplegic in a downhill mountain bike crash and made the transition from a stand up skier to a sit skier the very next winter. After my bike crash I was ambulanced into Kamloops hospital where the doctors made the call that I was to be air evacuated to Vancouver Children’s Hospital where they would perform surgery on my back to try and place all the broken pieces back together to prevent greater damage to my spinal cord. After this surgery and a few days in intensive care unit I was moved to rehabilitation where I faced the biggest physical, mental and emotional challenged I could’ve ever dreamed of. I spent the next 3 months coming to terms and overcoming obstacles presented by a spinal cord injury. I learned that when I crashed it compressed the T4 and T5 vertebrae which hit and damaged my spinal cord which is the line that carries out commands from the brain to the selected body part. I also learned that even with the situations I was faced with I was still extremely lucky with the type of crash I had my suffered my injury should’ve been worse, luckily I have the complete use of my arms, hands, fingers, and a small amount of my trunk and core. If it hadn’t been for good luck I would be faced with the greater issue of loss of hand and arm function.  Each day in rehab I would wake up try my best dig deep and work hard, I had small goals I always thought about the night before things that most people do as second nature such a learning to sit up by myself or turning myself over in bed each day I would practice and work to achieve these goals, when I achieved them I would set new slightly harder goals. After a few weeks in rehab I was slightly mobile I could get in and out of hospital beds with little or no help and I could push myself around in a wheelchair. I kept at my rehab everyday setting goals and working to achieve them. I met many amazing people with similar injury and used them as motivation and help to push myself. When the time had come, my mom, dad, brother, and myself, packed our stuff into our truck and went back home to Quesnel, BC, where the perfectly wheelchair accessible smooth concrete hallways of the hospital would become a thing of the past. I started my grade 10 year of school a few weeks late and quickly got caught up. My good friends would become my best friends after this situation. Something that I had wanted to do and that always gave me huge motivation was the thought of going sit skiing. I learned about sit skiing just a few days after my accident and I knew right away it was something I wanted to pursue. After a few unexpected events we became in contact with high fives foundation who would change my life nearly as much as the spinal cord injury had. They flew my family and me to Tahoe where they provided me with a sit ski and world class instruction. I spent that next few days making am few turns and then falling down on my sit ski. I knew it was going to be a challenge but it was a challenge that I knew the pay off would be the greatest feeling. I kept at skiing making small progress every ski day. I spent weeks on the bunny hill and slowly made it up to the bigger runs every ski day I would take fall after fall but I kept at it. After one full season I could marginally ski most of the easy run at our hill. The next season I worked all summer to get into the best shape of my life and pushed myself all ski year and by the end of that skin year I found myself on the top of black diamond runs comfortably skiing down them. I worked hard and always got back up; because of this I found my passion in life. Throughout this whole experience I really learned the importance of working hard and setting goals without it I wouldn’t be who I am today.