In Peer Profiles

This was Spinal Cord Injury BC’s second year participating in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge and it was an overwhelming success. We had 34 people join our team, the Walk ‘n Rollers, on the 5km course and we raised $27,200 to date.

All of our Walk ‘n Rollers have an incredible story to share, but one that resonated with everyone at Spinal Cord Injury BC was the story of the Matous family, which came out to the Charity Challenge with the biggest support network by far.

Nicholas Matous, who just turned 18, is still a couple months away from leaving GF Strong where he is rehabilitating from a C5/6 incomplete injury. Thanks to his determination and his family’s overwhelming support, Nicholas managed to push a large portion of the uneven 5km course on his own, which is no small feat for someone with a new quadriplegic injury. Meanwhile, his family members shared a wheelchair to roll alongside him.

Nicholas’ father, Steve Matous, says the event was an important day for the whole family:

“It’s important to move forward in life as much as possible, and this helps Nick do it, and it helps the rest of us do it as well. And it’s not just our individual family, as you can see, we have our extended family and friends here. We’re going along as a community, helping Nick move into his new life.”

Our Lower Mainland Peer Program Coordinator Brad Jacobsen, met Nicholas at GF strong and was really impressed by his tenacity on the 5k course:  “I met Nick early during his injury. I’ve been impressed with his fortitude and quiet inner strength when it comes to dealing with his injury. He’s had to grow up a lot faster than most 18-year-olds. As a fellow C5 quad, I know how challenging it is to wheel in a manual chair and to have seen him push the majority of the 5k was just awesome.”

Growing up in Comox, on Vancouver Island, Nicholas has always loved exploring the outdoors. His father recalls watching him build small mountain biking jumps in their backyard when he was only six or seven years old. He’s been a dedicated mountain biker and jump-builder ever since.

That’s why Nicholas isn’t wasting any time getting back outside. Thanks to an information session held by Spinal Cord Injury  BC, Nicholas discovered the Live it Love it Foundation, and he’ll be participating in his first outdoor camp since his injury this July.

Team Captain Brad Jacobsen and Nicholas Matous

When he leaves GF Strong in August, Nicholas’ priority is to go to university to pursue his passion: designing and building his own creations. “I kind of had an idea that I wanted to design stuff and then I looked around at programs and Mechanical Engineering seemed like something I would want to do,” says Nicholas.

Through all his challenges in recent months, Nicholas has maintained a nonchalant attitude that keeps him pushing through the hard times. “I can’t really sit around and whine about it so, you know, so this is how it is,” says Nicholas.

Nicholas and his family were one of Spinal Cord Injury BC’s top fundraisers, and we are elated to have such a dedicated family and their extended community show their support by raising $1,895 for SCI BC.

“The Peer Program, the fact that it’s there and that they take seriously the business of offering support and information from the point of view of people who are in a wheelchair, that makes a big difference. You know that there’s somebody you can look to when you need information and advice for how to do things,” says Steve Matous.

“You can see it sometimes with Nick now, if there’s somebody who comes to GF who’s more recently injured, he’ll make a point of going in, introducing himself and talking to that person. I find that the Peers really have an immediate connection. Even without much of an introduction, they already have a lot in common and they know it.”

Nicholas Matous, left, rolls along the Stanley Park seawall with his family during the 2013 Scotiabank Charity Challenge.

As for the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Steve says it had a tremendously positive impact on Nicholas and the whole family. “It was amazing. I think Nick’s participation in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge had a very significant and positive impact on him, both from a physical and psychological point of view. He just seemed more confident and positive after the event, and his strength and endurance visibly and quickly improved.”

“I would really recommend it to anybody who is here who can do it. The whole exercise of getting all the sponsors and getting people involved and then just participating in the event, that could really help a lot of people.”

This sense of community is exactly what Spinal Cord Injury BC is all about, and we can’t thank Nicholas and his family, our 34 Walk ‘n Roll team members, and all 333 of our sponsors enough. We could not provide our services without your support, and we were honoured to have you on our team!

Watch our short thank you video! Click here.

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