“Be the exception, not the norm,” is a line that gets thrown around often in our culture, used to inspire athletes and scholars alike, and may have never applied more fittingly to a person than Edmontonian Vanessa Rogers.
15 years ago, at the age of 16, Rogers was in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down. “I was deemed a complete quadriplegic,” Rogers said. “It was the scariest thing ever, going from having absolutely everything to having absolutely nothing in an instant.”
Rogers’ bright future suddenly seemed diminished. She admits she struggled with depression directly after the accident and had a hard time coming to terms with her new reality. Rogers’ own mother, Delphene Balan, admits it was a tough point in their lives. “When the accident happened of course you’re thinking of her future as being challenging and always hard for her. Nobody wants to see their children struggle.”
But then, a miracle happened: one day, a few months later, Rogers was suddenly able to move her feet and legs again.
There’s less than a one percent chance of someone who is paralyzed to be able to regain mobility and Rogers turned out to be that one percent.
Being able to move her toes was all it took for Rogers to kick-start her rehabilitation process; within 10 months, she was walking with only the assistance of a cane.
“I was given a second chance and that’s why I believe in myself and I portray that to everybody,” Rogers explained. “Live each day like it’s your last. Now I experience life. I do everything I can do.”
And she isn’t kidding. Rogers is a gym regular and just this past weekend, took part in the Muscle Beach Fall Classic, a well-known body building competition, where she went on to place in the top three and advance to provincials!
Rogers says her dedication to fitness despite all the odds comes from her mother, who is a personal trainer and bodybuilder. And she doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. All it takes is a reminder of what could have been to inspire her to keep going.
“Anytime it’s hard, whether it’s in daily life or whether it’s for competing, of course I’m going to push through it because I could be in a wheelchair right now. I’m supposed to be in a wheelchair and I’m not.”
I think it’s safe to say Vanessa Rogers is most definitely the exception- a miraculous exception. Keep pushing Vanessa!
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