Jeff Scott remembers April 11, not because it’s his mother’s birthday, but because that’s the day he become a quadriplegic.
Scott, a Fernwood resident and outdoor sport enthusiast, was snowboarding in Revelstoke on the last day of the season in 2010. He came up short on a gap, knocked himself out and continued to cartwheel down the hill unconscious.
When he finally woke up, he couldn’t feel his body.
“My able-bodied independent life was a memory in a pipe dream. I was just overwhelmed with a new sensation and just a whole new world,” Scott said. “I had no idea about spinal cord injuries, but I was learning a lot.”
He broke his C1, C5 and C6, leaving him the function of a C5-6 quadriplegic.
Scott would spend the next year in Vancouver General Hospital and at G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre in Vancouver.
He knew from the beginning that his ability to build up his strength would allow him to be independent and enjoy the activities he used to when he was able-bodied.
It was in rehab where Scott discovered wheelchair rugby.
“It’s a challenging game, it’s physical, but also mentally, there’s a lot of strategy involved as well,” he said. “I enjoy both of those as well as the camaraderie with the people you play with.”
Scott went from being in a power wheelchair to a manual one. Though the healing process is still on-going, he credits sports with his ability to maintain his independence.
“It challenges me to do more, it’s a perpetual cycle with what I’m able to do,” Scott said. “I look back on the last five years since I got hurt and I kind of need to take a moment to appreciate how far I came. When I came out of the hospital I could barely feed myself. Sport has given me my life back.”
Scott also founded the Live It! Love It! Foundation dedicated to promoting the progression of adaptive adventure and providing outdoor recreation opportunities for the disabled through workshops, camps, events and projects.
Earlier this week, Scott was the keynote speaker at the first annual ParaSport Development Week at the University of Victoria.
The week-long event at locations around Greater Victoria included wheelchair tennis and rugby and other clinics to introduce people with disabilities to the opportunities available to them locally.
Andrea Carey, board director with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and organizer of Paralympic development week, said Greater Victoria is quickly becoming a hub for disability sport.
“Greater Victoria has a long-standing tradition of creating great athletes and we also recognize that there’s huge potential with disability sport,” Carey said, adding a number of national and international athletes and coaches train in Victoria.
“There’s people out there that really don’t know what the options are and they don’t understand where they fit in to that. We want to ensure that anyone that wants to participate has that opportunity.”
On Saturday, Nov. 21, there will be a wheelchair basketball program at CASRA from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and a wheelchair basketball demo at 5 p.m.
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