So what if Grant was an extreme sports enthusiast before his injury, and yeah maybe his need for speed is to blame (he was injured in a snowmobile accident almost 3 years ago doing a jump with his pro-snowmobile team, the Alpine Assassins), but for Grant Korgan, none of that matters. He believes everything happens for a reason and has put his mindset into one of the most positive places I’ve ever seen anyone with a spinal cord injury get themselves into.
No joke – since his injury Grant has been unstoppable, (he credits his positive childhood and continued support from his very cool wife, Shawna). From becoming the first person with a spinal cord injury to trek to the South Pole (last year!) to publishing a book, as well becoming a TEDx speaker (all the while going to rehab and regaining some impressive function), here is a peek into the “Mad Love” world of Reno, Nevada native, Grant Korgan.
Why he’s fearless
Before his injury, Grant says he had it all, and he did. He was a mechanical engineer and president of his own nanotechnology company, recently married to a beautiful wife and was physically active in some really cool sports. He traveled all over the world for whitewater kayaking, was an avid downhill skier, mountain biker, wakeboarder, and was the co-founder of a pro-snowmobiling team. But when he went too far on a jump, missing it by 70 ft. (landing so hard his L1 vertebrae burst on impact), Grant knew his life would be in for a huge challenge. But holy cow, has he been a mental beacon of “Yes I can,” refusing to accept what doctors said was impossible.
But in the world of spinal cord injuries, Grant was pretty lucky. He had a lower injury and his cord was bruised. Within five months his injury, he was standing with the help of leg braces, and last August he walked without canes (watch his video). Grant believes big-time in activity-based recovery (attending therapy at CR Johnson Healing Center at High Fives Foundation and @ Spine Nevada), meaning that if you force the body to move, and do it in a way you love, your muscles (and nerves) will reawaken.
After first going home, Grant focused hardcore on therapy, and he also got back into doing the extreme sports he loves. On his one year anniversary of his injury, March 3, 2011, he was back on a snowmobile. And in the Spring of the same year, he was back on a kayak doing sweet tricks (despite no movement from the knees down).
So when the opportunity arose to go on a South Pole expedition along with another paraplegic, which would ultimately become the documentary, “The Push: A South Pole Adventure,” he was definitely up for it. He sit-skied for 75 mi, taking 2 weeks (and wearing battery-powered thermal stocks to keep his feet warm), ultimately becoming the first person with a spinal cord injury to reach the South Pole January 17th, 2012 (unfortunately the other paraplegic, Paul Davies, had to drop out because of a pressure sore). Watch a teaser for the documentary
And last summer, his book, Two Feet Back, was published. It is a really cool book that touches on his disability and accident, but it’s really about the journey everyone takes and how each one of us is a survivor. And the book focuses on his drive for a 120% recovery, which some may scoff at, but…he is one determined guy and really, is halfway there. It’s available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Read more about it here
“I believe its human to fall down. The magic happens when we get back up.,” is areat quote Grant shares when he speaks, another thing he’s gotten into since his accident. Last year, he made his speaking debut with TED, at the Tedx Youth conference in San Diego, CA. He speaks on the limitless possibilities that are in all of us (watch).
As someone with a SCI, it’s hard to not get a little jealous of Grant’s recovery, but how can you not help but love this guy? He could become a guru, that’s how charismatic he is. “Embrace the positivity,” he drives into his listeners to do. Yup, I think he’s onto something.
Would you trek to the South Pole like Grant Korgan? What are your thoughts on activity-based recovery?
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