Imagine being an active, athletic young boy with your life ahead of you. You are out skiing, having fun with your friends. Suddenly, you miss a turn and take a tumble. For most, you get up, wipe yourself off and start up again. For Cole Hoodicoff, however, it didn’t happen. He landed awkwardly and wasn’t able to get up. The accident left the Robson Elementary student paralyzed from the chest down, unable to walk.
“After the accident (January, 2011) he had four and a half months of rehabilitation in Vancouver,” said Cole’s mother Amy Walters in a March 29 visit to the Castlegar News. “He then came home and we have been working just to get situated with life. Cole has done well. He has got a lot stronger. He has gone sit-skiing a few times now, which took a tremendous among of courage on his part.”
Cole appeared on the B.C. Lion’s Club Variety Telethon where he received a new bicycle.
“It was really cool getting my new bike,” said the 12 year-old. “I can’t wait for summer. I’m going to be biking a lot.”
Cole also learned that he would be carrying the relay medal on April 22 for the 25th anniversary of Rick Hansen’s legendary journey.
“He’ll be carrying the medal for 250 metres,” said Walters.
When Cole was in rehab, he got to meet Hansen. He was cool, said Cole, although he admits that he had never heard of Hansen before his skiing injury.
“I didn’t know anything about him,” said Cole. “Before my accident, I didn’t really pay attention to people in wheelchairs. I didn’t know anything about it.”
Cole knows it’s unlikely he will walk again, however, with proper rehabilitation, he will be able to gain strength.
To increase his probability of rehabilitation, Cole is hoping to travel to Regina, Saskatchewan to attend First Steps Wellness Centre.
“It’s the only Project Walk approved facility in Canada,” said Walters. “Project Walk is based in Carlsbad, California. They have facilities all over the world. They have tremendous results working with spinal cord injury survivors. These results are not 100 per cent typical, but there are people who have gone through the program and regained feeling, regained movement below their injury site. But above all, they get much stronger and much more independent. It makes life a little easier.”
To help raise money for Cole to go to Regina, the family is holding a dinner/dance on Saturday, April 28 at the Castlegar Community Complex.
“The doors open at 5 p.m. and will run until 1 a.m.,” said Walters. “We have a couple of bands coming from Kelowna: Thunder and Lightning and Purploid. They’re pretty well known in the circuit in and around Kelowna.”
The event will feature a Lasagna and roasted chicken dinner by Kim’s Creations.
“She is donating her services,” said Walters. “That will be a full meal with salads and dessert. Safe rides home will be provided by the Sunshine Rotary Club of Castlegar. They will be doing that in the person’s own vehicle. So you can drive your own car to the event and they will drive it home.”
The event will also feature many great door prizes donated by local businesses.
Cole and his parents are very thankful to the community for the tremendous about of support they have given already.
“Last year, our community came together huge and raised all sorts of money for both mine and Brad’s (Cole’s father) houses,” said Walters. “We were both able to use that money to change our vehicles. We both had to change our vehicles to have them wheelchair accessible. We also had to make our homes and bathrooms wheelchair accessible.
“We’re hoping we can ask the public again to help get Cole out to Regina.”
Walters said that First Steps program will be like boot camp for Cole.
“It’s two to three hours every day, five days a week of intense therapy,” she said. “The method is called Dardzinski. It entails a lot of resistance training, gate rocking, weight bearing, electrical stimulation. Which is not painful at all. They personalize each plan for each person.”
Walters said she has spoken with one of the main planners at First Steps and he told her they are ready and excited to have Cole.
“They are really hopeful for Cole because of his age and because of how recent the injury was and his medical history,” said Walters. “He’s quite excited to work with Cole.”
“I’m excited to go,” said Cole. “I want to go badly. I want to get stronger so I can do stuff on my own. My biggest hope is obviously to walk again. I have high hopes for that, but it’s not the biggest chance in the world. I just want to regain lower body strength.”
Tickets are available at Bubblee’s Liquor Store Plus, Downtown Shell (Benson Oil), Johnny’s Grocery and Gas, Castlegar Community Complex, and also at the Castlegar Selkirk College book store.
Anyone wanting to volunteer to help out at the dinner/dance can call Amy Walters at 250-365-1000 or email email@example.com.