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Kris Sanford isn’t allowing paralysis to discourage him of his dream of being an athlete. The Weber State University junior plans to break Ryan Nichols’ hand-cycling ride world record of 776 miles. His journey will begin in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and continue for 1,100 miles to Huntington Beach, Calif., which would surpass Nichols’ record by 324 miles.
Sanford has started a fundraiser, Spinal Ride, and he intends to raises $100,000 by his September 2014 event date through public support. Proceeds raised will go to help people with disabilities get the care they need to have a good quality of life.
All proceeds will be donated to Neuroworx, where Sanford did his occupational therapy, but money is not the only thing that can be donated. A list of items still needed is available at SpinalRide.com.
“My goal is to help people,” Sanford said. “Now that I’ve started getting out there, I really want to become a motivational speaker.”
“There’s plenty of time to get involved and support,” he said, “not to mention the discounts available and the internship opportunity for Weber State students.”
WSU has created an internship with Spinal Ride, for public relations/communication majors especially, but any student can ask their adviser if this internship will suffice for their requirements. Kathryn Edwards, director of the Master of Professional Communication program, said it would be a great opportunity for a student to get hands-on experience in a rewarding event.
Sanford said he has always loved athletics. In 2009, shortly after his high school graduation, he was signed to play baseball for Utah State University’s College of Eastern Utah. However, life threw him a curve ball. In April, just before moving to college, he was involved in a rollover traffic accident in which he was thrown from the vehicle, breaking his neck.
Now he lives every day in a wheelchair, identifying as a quadriplegic, which means his arms and legs are paralyzed. He is able to hand-cycle because his biceps and shoulder muscles still function, which is what he will use to push and pull his way through what he hopes will be his record-breaking adventure.
While going through therapy, Sanford realized he still had the capability to make dreams come true, and with the help from Neuroworx, and his own strength and ambition, he decided he wanted to do something that wouldn’t just benefit himself, but others with disabilities everywhere.
Neuroworx is a clinic that specializes in paralysis with a concentrated focus therapy program, where patients go through activity-based therapy, creating a neuro-network called neuro-muscle memory, which allows them to perform daily activities.
“The clinic is designed to push their clients forward as much as possible, increase their neurological recovery and enhance their functional ability, which leads them to better health and a better quality of life,” said Dale Hull, executive director/co-owner and WSU alumnus, also a quadriplegic.
Sanford said he wanted to donate to Neuroworxs because of the extra assistance it gives to people who can’t afford therapy but need it.
“Neuroworx gives people an extraordinary amount of time to recover,” Hull said. “We give them what they need, not just what we can bill for.”
Stacee Seay, national manager for TrainingBible Coaching, is training Sanford for his event. She said she feels confident that Sanford will achieve whatever he sets his mind to and will succeed.
“He works very hard and is very determined in his training,” Seay said. “I am very impressed with him . . . he has an amazing personality and character, and he’s not going to let what happened to him define who he is.”
Sanford will be on WSU’s campus starting fall semester, and he encourages everyone to talk to him and ask questions about Spinal Ride. He has a positive outlook on life and wants to live the fullest life he can. His motto is that everything happens for a reason.
“I have had a lot of amazing opportunities I wouldn’t have been afforded had I not been in a wheelchair,” Sanford said.