​The Gift of 28 Years Post Injury

Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on February 08, 2023 # Lifestyle

Krill FamilyHe could have died in the snow that cold January night 28 years ago after crashing his snowmobile into a guard rail, forever changing the course of his story. But he didn’t. He survived, and all these years later, he looks back on the night mostly with gratitude that he was rescued, healed, found a person to share his years with and became a dad. Of course, he accomplished other goals, but those were the big ones. And until now, most have thought him to be primarily invincible. However, for the one who lives with him every day and listens to the aches and pains as his career as a professional ski instructor and adaptive sports coach with extensive travel is starting to weigh on him-- it’s all getting just a bit harder.

Over a year ago, he snapped his downhill mountain bike in half while on a downhill trail at Loon Mountain with my brother, who was more than slightly horrified. There have been a few occasions in our lives where my brother happens to be the first responder in a “mishap” that he is unprepared for. Geoff, however, takes all of these mishaps in stride. There was that time at Disney World when we thought we could get him on the “It’s a Small World” ride and just about ended all of our careers as ride-goers. There was the time we horrified countless people on the beach when we threw him into the surf just to get him past the big rocks. Being with Geoff on any kind of adventure always brings along a set of challenges. So when he snapped his bike in two, he was devastated. A friend and colleague of his at Loon and her boyfriend welded it back together again, but we understood this would not be a long-term fix.

With the cost of this kind of equipment being over 16,000 dollars and our income limited, he applied to the Kelly Brush Foundation and was awarded a substantial grant for a downhill bike with E-assist. A loving cousin made a very generous donation to our mountain bike cause, and we were able to also apply locally to the Loon Mountain Community Fund and paid the balance of Geoff’s bike and bike rack when the bike was finished being built, we had no more money. On the day before Christmas Eve, Geoff’s new bike arrived, and he was literally a little kid on Christmas. We brought it with us to Christmas at his parents’ house because they have a relatively quiet neighborhood and unpaved roads to cruise around.

Like all good parents, we forced our children to go for a walk with us later in the afternoon on Christmas Day, so Dad could test out his new wheels. Although the temps were cold, and he was not wearing proper gloves (or a helmet for that matter), we went for a nice long walk watching Geoff accelerate and gain some understanding (and dream) of all this bike will help him to do in our later years. He could not have imagined 28 years ago that night, waiting for help to arrive, what his life would become. I met him about nine years into his spinal cord injury, and we are grateful to the adaptive communities and those in our everyday lives for making mobility easier on both of us. Geoff has always loved being in the woods, and now, with his new bike, that doesn’t seem as daunting as it once did. To wish someone a happy spinal cord anniversary is indeed a weird thing to do, but here we are.

Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 13 and 11 respectively. Please check out her novel True North, website www.heatherkrill.com, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.