SUNBURY Lions footballer and Gisborne all-round junior cricketer Sam Riggio led an active, full lifestyle full of so much potential.
A car accident – all he remembers is seeing a truck come towards him – broke his neck and left him paralysed from the neck down at 19 years old.
Sam leads a full lifestyle, 17 years on, but with a stronger drive and determination after being told he would never walk again.
When a nurse said the words, Sam was gutted. He felt crippled physically and socially.
Courage to change his mindset in a gruelling, lengthy process, allowed Sam to walk again and live independently in Geelong. He shared his story with Ballarat Sportsmen’s Club this week, on the speaking circuit as to keep motivating himself and in the hope to inspire and help others.
“I was only 19. I had a lot of hopes, goals and dreams to be told basically they were gone,” Sam told The Courier. “I asked the nurse one night whether I would walk again...Mum came in and said I had nothing to fear but fear itself. That gave me drive and determination.”
The first month after the accident, Sam was “pretty much out of it” at The Alfred. Eight months later, standing up on the parallel bars, Sam felt some sensation in his legs and took two steps. His dad photographed it, so proud to see his son take his first steps all over again.
“I had this sense of euphoria, really, after being constantly told it was not possible,” Sam said. “I was a little naive how much of a journey I still had to go.”
Sam spent 7½ years in public health rehabilitation programs, taking about 40 prescription pills each day. His liver was failing.
He had enough. Studying up on acupuncture (it helped him get back in the gym) and natural medicine allowed Sam a new avenue to re-take control of his life.
Frustrated and overwhelmed without a support group, Sam diarised his journey and feeling. He later turned this into a book and guide, complete with resources, for others in similar situations. The far-reaching impact surprised him, but it fuels his drive today.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.