Paralyzed Athlete Making Strides in Fight to Walk Again

After a devastating mountain bike crash eight months ago, doctors told a New Hampshire man he'd never walk again. But now, defying the odds, he is determined to walk back into that doctor's office and prove them wrong.

"All I could think of right away was my wife and my parents and that was heavy for sure," Ryan St. Lawrence said.

The Nashua native fought back tears as he remembered the day he crashed his bike on a trail in New Hampshire.

His wife, Kim, remembers the afternoon in the hospital vividly.

"My first question to [the doctor] was, 'well, is he alive? Did he survive?'" Kim recalled. "She said, 'Yes, yes, but he's paralyzed and will never walk again,' and all I heard was, 'Well, he's alive.'"

Kim and Ryan had only been married a year on August 13, 2016, when she got a call from his buddies. The 31-year-old competitive mountain biker missed a landing and their life's plans changed in an instant.

"You never expect life to hit you like this," Ryan said.

Paralyzed from his chest down, Ryan spent 10 days in the ICU and another two and a half months in a traditional rehab center.

But now, his progress is remarkable, after spending two days a week at Project Walk Boston in Stratham, New Hampshire.

"You think, 'Oh, the legs, they're paralyzed, let's ignore the legs,' but we're like, 'No, let's get those legs moving,'" explained Project Walk trainer Daniele Crutcher.

"A lot of traditional therapy programs, they prepare you for life in a chair," Kim said. "The people here, they have that same hope they share that same enthusiasm for getting you out of your chair, and that's what we found so valuable."

But Project Walk isn't covered by insurance, so St. Lawrence found a different way to be here. He applied for, and was awarded, a grant from The High Fives Organization, a nonprofit committed to supporting athletes with life-altering injuries.

"It's a pretty cool group of people to be affiliated with," Ryan said.

"There's a lot of bad in the world, but we were able to see the best in people," Kim said.

She says her husband's injury has even brought out the best in him.

"I'm so proud of him, but I am not surprised," she said, just months after a hopeless prognosis.

St. Lawrence is saddling up and peddling on his own.

"I want to prove people wrong. I want to get back on my feet," Ryan said.

His wife has no doubt that he'll do it.

"A lot of people will tell you it can't be done, but if you have the hope to push, that's when miracles can happen," Kim said.

Click here to learn more about Project Walk Boston. To learn more about the High Fives Organization, click here.

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