CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV Atlantic’s Eilish Bonang
Published Friday, April 19, 2019 5:32PM EDT
A New Brunswick man left paralyzed from the chest down after a hiking accident 14 years ago is working towards a big goal: qualifying for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
Matthew Kinnie was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hiking, skiing, backpacking, canoeing and rock climbing. It was while rock climbing with friends as a 22-year-old that his life changed forever.
“My hand slipped and I pulled an anchor from the wall and before my rope could catch me, I had hit a ledge,” Kinnie told CTV Atlantic.
He fell backwards and landed on the back of his head and neck, fracturing his C-6 vertebra, which left him paralyzed from the chest down.
His immediate thought was what his wife, Melanie, would think.
“I was so young and so naïve that I just thought, ‘Okay, it’s going to be a long road, but everything is going to be fine,’” she told CTV Atlantic.
Then came the heartbreaking news from Kinnie’s doctor that there was a 99 per cent chance that he would never walk again.
Kinnie, who is now the father of twin girls, said that he struggled with guilt. Eventually, he used those feelings to fuel his recovery.
Now, the para-cyclist who has won national para-cycling championships, hopes to qualify for the 2020 Paralympics.
“It’s not lost on me that people are sacrificing so that I can do what I’m doing right now, but my hope is that it’s not going to be that way for the next 20 years,” Kinnie said. “It’s just right now, and then maybe I can give back a little and support others to do the things they love to do.”
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