CHEK Upside: Victoria man walks 77 kilometres two years after serious spinal cord injury

WatchA sudden fall down some concrete stairs left Gerry Parker quadriplegic, but that hasn't stopped him from managing to walk 77 kilometres.

Gerry Parker will never forget the moment his life changed forever.

“Simple trip and fall on some concrete stairs,” recalls Parker. “Spinal cord injury, C3 and C4 compressed fracture. Everything changed.”

That simple trip and fall down some concrete stairs left the former high school athlete of the year, who moved to Victoria to take care of his aging parents, a quadriplegic.

It also resulted in the 56-year-old spending nine months in hospital, where he eventually came to a stern conclusion.

“[I] kind of came down to two very simple choices, give up and feel sorry for yourself, or do something about it,” he said.

Parker chose the latter. He started physiotherapy, and just under two years ago joined MOVE Adapted Fitness, a Victoria non-profit that provides therapies and exercise regimens to children and adults with physical disabilities.

He set small goals, taking one step at a time. He has since put up countless hours, and has started seeing results.

“You’ve got to decide if you’re going to go all in or just show up for the sake of showing up,” said Parker.

Recently, he took on a fundraising challenge of walking the equivalent of a marathon.

“I would walk probably between two and three miles a day,” Parker said.

In just over two weeks, he exceeded his goal.

“In total, I did 77 kilometres,” Parker said.

Those who’ve worked with Parker say his work ethic has been nothing short of inspirational.

“I would definitely describe him as a go-getter,” said Alannah Verville, Parker’s trainer and the executive director of MOVE Adapted Fitness. “He’s able to persevere through kind of any situation that’s thrown at him and he’s got a great attitude and that has just grown since starting with MOVE.”

Though Parker admits the difficult journey is filled with emotional and physical ups and downs, he has no shortage of hope.

“Two years ago I couldn’t even get out of bed,” he said.

Parker is adamant that this is only the beginning. Although any additional progress is not guaranteed, there’s one thing that is.

“I’m going after it, as hard as I can,” he said.

For information on how to support Gerry’s fundraiser, click here.

Kevin Charach

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