In 2020, I had an accident that changed my life. As the world dealt with COVID-19, everyone learned a
great deal about resilience and the fleeting nature of life. At the same time, I was confronted with the
fragile nature of my own mortality.
In July, 2020 I accidentally fell down in my own home, and suffered a spinal cord injury that sent me to
the hospital and into rehab for months. The road back has not been easy, nor has it led me back to exactly
where I was before. It’s an unbelievably humbling, frustrating and value-altering experience to go from
being an adventure photographer one day, to someone who can’t touch his fingers to his thumb the next.
A few weeks after the accident, I was able to hold a small camera in my hands for the first time. I was still
too weak to even press the buttons, but I was able to hold the camera. If you had told me a month before,
while I was out in the wild photographing seals, bears and birds, that I would be grateful to hold a camera
in my hands that I couldn’t even use – I would have told you that you were crazy. But life takes us on
journeys that we could never have imagined, and we just have to be grateful for still being alive, and for
having the ability to recover. That gratitude extends, for me, to those around me since I have a network
that includes, first and foremost, my wife, Shelly. It also includes the incredible medical staff and
therapists who have encouraged me and pushed me towards my goals.
There are many things that my wife and my medical support staff have done, and continue to do, to aid
my recovery. Two that stand out for me are the mental and emotional encouragement and the small
thoughtful plans that have helped me to gain independence. When you have people around you who are
constantly telling you that you can do it, that you can get better, that you can reach the next goal, it shifts
your own self-doubt and propels you forward. It is so important for all of us to have these types of
encouraging people in our lives – and to seek out this positive reinforcement from the people who choose
to bring into our sphere. In addition, my wife found ways to accelerate my recovery by helping me to feel
independent. She brought me special forks and spoons that allowed me to eat alone; she set up my iPad
and iPhone so that I could communicate by myself and she did other small things that made a huge
Five weeks after the accident, I was finally able to go home. My days have been spent working on my
physical therapy for my spinal cord injury. This includes doing 60-80 different exercises to train my legs,
feet, arms, hands, toes and fingers. It includes a great deal of repetition and determination. It includes
learning to walk again, which I am so grateful I’ve been able to do.
I spend a great deal of my day looking inwards and working on my own recovery and improvements. One
of the ways that I continue to stay positive is by turning outwards – and seeing how I can use my
experience to help others. I’ve joined the Darrell Gwynn Wheelchair Challenge for the Miami Project at
the University of Miami and I’m helping them to raise money for the more than 175 scientists and
researchers who work to cure paralysis. I hope that my experience can encourage others sufferers and
make a difference so that together we can work towards cures.