I was injured thirteen years ago while riding a downhill mountain bike. My friends met every weekend and we rode down tough trails. Little did I know that one ride would change my life forever. I descended down a trail, and that was the last thing I remember. When I woke up a few minutes later I could not move my legs and knew instantly that I was paralyzed. I questioned what I had to live for — so many questions and no answers.
Sitting in my hospital bed I contemplated my new challenges and thought my life was over. Then Mrs. Brown walked in — I did not know who she was or how she could know what I was going through. Boy was I wrong!! Her visit was pivotal in enabling me to move forward. She arranged to have a network of people with SCI visit me including her son, Alan. They provided strength for my rehab, and were the light in my dark tunnel. I wonder where and how my life would be if I had never become involved with the Alan T Brown Foundation (ATBF); or rather, what if they had never become involved with me?
Mrs. Brown introduced me to the concept of participating in disabled sports and I proudly represented the United States in the 1998 Paralympic Games in Nagano, Japan in the sport of Sled Hockey. I have traveled the world, received my Bachelor of Science degree, worked at the United Spinal Association as the Director of Sports Marketing and helped spinally-injured individuals participate in disabled sports. I married my beautiful wife, Susan, and our two most beautiful girls, Sophia Margo and Lola Sienna are the joy of our lives. Currently, I work as the Accessibility Coordinator with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation working to make the city parks accessible for people with disabilities.
The Foundation has taught me to give back. When I meet a disabled person on the street, I frequently introduce them to the world of disabled sports. I have watched some of these individuals strive to be Paralympians. My close friend Nick Springer will be at the summer Paralympic Games in Beijing representing the United States in the sport of Quad Rugby. I will be traveling to China to watch him in his quest for a Gold Medal.
How fortunate I am for Mrs. Brown’s visit. The compassion, understanding and information that I was given has made a difference in my life. For this and more I am truly grateful.