© David Robinson

"I had two choices: to give up or get on"

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Sean Rose broke his back in an unusual ski accident in February 2000.  Instead of giving up, he decided to realize his dreams, surpassing expectations and enjoying his new life as a wheelie. Sean is a World Champion Water Skier, World Cup Gold Downhill Skier, Winter X-Games medalist, Double Paralympian, adventurer, guest speaker and all round speed talent. He shared his story with us…

Please share will us how you sustained your spinal cord injury?
I was working in the Royal Air Force as a Physical Training Instructor. On 25th February 2000 after a beautiful morning skiing on the Osterfelder with my students, I turned onto a marked run, only travelling slowly and hit a build up of wet snow. My skis stopped dead and I landed head first like a Javelin. I slid to a stop, immediately tried to sit up and I couldn't move or feel anything from chest down. It was obvious to me from that moment that I had broken my back. 

What was your first thought after the accident?
I hoped at that moment it was temporary. I can't explain all the feelings and thoughts that went through your mind. Was my lifetime of sports as I knew it going to be over? 

How has your life changed since your injury?
It has been a positive thing in many respects. I initially realized that I couldn’t turn back time and that I couldn’t change what had happened, so why worry about it? 

I had two choices; to give up or get on. I chose to get on with my life, and put a smile back on my face. That thought progressed, and I made a list of sports I could still do. I still have that list and am constantly adding to it and ticking things off!

Which are the biggest barriers in your everyday life?
Not being able to change a light bulb, that’s really annoying when you know that before you could have done it on your own is really frustrating. Even though I like to be so independent, there’s always something.

What are the most positive aspects in your life?
I soon realized that life doesn’t end when you’re in a wheelchair. It didn’t and doesn’t. As long as you have a positive mental attitude, and are passionate about something, which for me was sport, just go for it. 

My family is the most positive aspect in my Life. I’ve an amazing and supportive wife who’s also spinal cord injured and two fantastic young children who are a constant source of amusement.  

What are your dreams for the future?
To keep challenging myself. I like to do things that make me smile, like to keep pushing my own personal barriers and surpassing other people’s expectations on what they think is possible. 

What do you like about Wings for Life?
They have the power to rebuild people. Living with a spinal cord injury isn’t pleasant on a daily basis. I’ve seen the research currently undergoing through Wings for Life projects and believe they have the ability to make daily living more bearable for those with a spinal cord injury.

What are your hopes for spinal cord injury research?
For research to find a way to increase regeneration in the early days after the injury and thereby improve quality of daily living. In the long term it would be to increase mobility of limbs affected by spinal cord injury.

Learn more about Sean Rose and his new adventure “4 People 6 Legs” at: http://www.seanrose.co.uk/