Quadriplegic athlete inspires with 'spinal ride'

By Deanie Wimmer | Posted - Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 3:31pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — An athlete taking on a challenge most of us wouldn't consider is inspiring many. Kris Sanford is a quadriplegic cyclist who focuses on what he can do, not his limitations.

For Sanford, doing the simple things in life isn't so simple.

"Being in a wheelchair, some things are definitely hard," Sanford said. "There are things that I see and I want to do and I want to help, I want to run. There are things like that, but there are so many good things that have come from it."

Five years ago, at just 18 years old, Sanford's life changed when the truck he was riding in hydroplaned and rolled several times.

"I was in the passenger seat and I got ejected out of the rear driver's side window," said Sanford.

Sanford broke his neck and spent more than three months in the hospital. Doctors told him he would never walk again.

"You go from being able to help, being the one who moves the heavy things, you know, to seeing your mom and your family doing this stuff for you. I just kind of took if for what it was and moved on."

An athlete before the accident, Sanford found purpose again by re-igniting his competitive spirit. He set a goal to break the world record for hand cycling by riding 1100 miles from Idaho Falls to Huntington Beach, California.

Sanford is using his "Spinal Ride" to raise money for Neuroworx, the physical therapy facility he credits with changing his life.

"If I can raise money for them and help them be able to give that to somebody and help them along, like me, that'll mean way more to me than, say, the record will," Sanford said.

Students at Weber State know all about Sanford and his record setting goal. Some marketing students picked Sanford's cause to promote as part of an assignment. Their big kickoff was a flash mob at a mall

For the students, the project was both fun and inspiring. Those who know Sanford are impressed with his positive attitude and willingness to fight through adversity.

Sanford lives by the motto "Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

"I just have a love for life, you know. It's good stuff. I have a choice; I'm going to choose to live," said Sanford.

Sanford will attempt to break the world record in hand cycling this September.


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