Sam Douglas wants to give back to the SCI community—here’s why.
Just over two years ago Sam Douglas was having an ordinary day at work. As a rope access technician, Sam would rappel structures such as bridges and buildings to conduct safety inspections and carry out installations. On March 22, 2017, though, his ordinary day was shaken when he fell 30 feet onto concrete and broke his neck—resulting in a spinal cord injury that left him a C5 incomplete quadriplegic.
Now, Douglas is determined to shake things up again on his own terms as co-captain of Spinal Cord Injury BC’s 5K Scotiabank Charity Challenge team on June 23.
“I’m really trying to get more involved with SCI BC because I just want to try and give back,” he says. “Ever since I got injured I’ve been pushing really hard in rehab to get myself to walking again and I’m very thankful to be at that point. But I realize that a lot of my Peers who I went through rehab with will probably never walk again … and because I got hurt at work I feel like I’m in a unique position to help out with SCI BC. I just want to give back.”
It really opened my eyes that there is life after spinal cord injury.
Douglas, who was first introduced to SCI BC during rehab at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre remembers meeting Peer Program Coordinator Ryan Clarkson and Virtual Peer Program Coordinator Teri Thorson. “Once you’re out of GF you kind of feel like you’re a loose end and it’s overwhelming,” explains Douglas. “SCI BC is really good at giving you little resources and things that get you out of the house more, or sharing personal experiences, which is great.”
In particular, he reflects on the guidance provided by Clarkson, who was also injured at work. “It was really valuable talking to Ryan, especially in the early days because he was three to four years down the road and knew what would happen,” Douglas says. “Talking to him gave me more confidence.”
After being discharged Douglas attended SCI BC’s Guys Garage event at Andina Brewing and learned about the annual Whistler Adaptive Adrenaline trip. Newly injured, he was skeptical about the adaptive sport options that were to be provided at the event, but he went anyway. “That trip afforded me the opportunity to try rock climbing, mountain biking, paddleboarding,” says Douglas. “It really opened my eyes that there is life after spinal cord injury.”
Douglas’ life after SCI is busier than ever. He volunteers with SCI BC at the GF Strong Peer office once a week, will start school soon at BCIT to pursue project management, plays wheelchair rugby recreationally and volunteers at WC rugby tournaments and is excited to be walking and wheeling alongside Peers as co-captain of this year’s Scotiabank Charity Challenge team. “Being a co-captain really appealed to me because the money goes to SCI BC, who I work with on a weekly basis, it’s a lot closer to home. I want to contribute as much as I can.”