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Diagnosis as paraplegic doesn't keep teen from living on the edge


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SANDY -- Tanner Godfrey is a 19-year-old with an incredible love of adventure, whether it's riding motorcycles or jumping the wake at Lake Powell; but his life took a bit of a turn, and he's fighting to get back on track.

Godfrey, of Sandy, lives life on the edge, and he knows just one way to live it -- full speed ahead.

"I just had a need for speed I guess," he said.

That need for speed got him in serious trouble. It was Thanksgiving Day 2007 during an intermediate motocross race in Mesquite, Nev.

"I was working my way up and went up the hill and hit a pothole with my back tire, then one with my front, so it shot me sideways, threw me over the handle bars, and I landed on my head going about 50 miles an hour," Godfrey said.

Several hours later and in the ICU, Godfrey was diagnosed as a paraplegic. He had no feeling from the sternum down.

His mom, Stacie Godfrey, said, "From the moment I walked in, he's been our strength. People came out of ICU and came out and said, ‘I went in to cheer him up, and he lifted me up,' and that's how Tanner's been ever since."

As Godfrey put it, "The way I look at it is me sitting here is boring, and I wasn't made for this, so I'm going to get out of this stupid thing."

Godfrey now works out in a state-of-the-art harness at Neuroworx in South Jordan. The harness supports his body weight so therapists can help him walk in the best position and optimize each step. The goal is to trigger the stepping response, so eventually he can walk again on his own.

Since his spinal cord wasn't severed, this 19-year-old has been able to make amazing progress. From barely moving a foot a year ago, now Godfrey can walk up stairs.

His physical therapist Jan Black said, "I think at this level we have 40 patients, and he's the only one at his level doing what he's doing."

To celebrate his progress, his family went skydiving on Thanksgiving last year, exactly one year after his accident. Even before that, his friends got him on a motorcycle, though he had no way to stop. Once again, he's living on the edge.

Godfrey fully expects to get back on the bike full time and get back to racing. "I'll be fine, I'll be back to normal. I've never thought I couldn't do it, so I know I'll be back to myself," he told us.

It's an amazing attitude for the former Alta High School wrestler and linebacker, a young man with his whole life ahead of him, full speed ahead.

For the past several months, Godfrey has been able to drive himself to therapy thanks to hand controls in his truck. But as you can imagine, he expects those controls will be taken away one day and he'll be back to using his feet.

E-mail: kaiken@ksl.com

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Kathy Aiken

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