A paralyzed Shreveport hand cyclist is going against all odds. After being hit by a drunk driver 15 years ago, Scott Wells isn't letting his injury stop him from living life.
He's preparing to leave for a military cycling camp as part of a military biking team.
Wells, a military veteran, served with the U.S. Navy for eight years and worked as a corrections officer on active duty reserves for two years in South Carolina. That's when he was struck by a drunk driver, paralyzing him from the chest down. He suffered a C5 spinal cord injury and spent two months in a VA medical center in Augusta, GA.
"When someone receives this type of injury, they become totally dependent again, just like they're an infant," Wells said. "Having to deal with everything that goes along with it because your body doesn't work the same again. You have to learn how your new body is going to work and being able to accept the way your new body is going to work and function for you now, and so that's the biggest aspect of it."
Wells said peer support helped him the most in regaining his independence. Just five years after the accident, a friend introduced him to hand cycling and gave him his first bike.
"He says, "I've got the perfect on in the truck for you," and he pulled it out and gave it to me. That was 10 ago and I've been cycling every since and loving every minute of it," Wells said.
Wells cycles three to four times a week putting in anywhere from 100 to 110 miles a week on his bike. Since taking up hand cycling he's accomplished to rides across Louisiana.
Wells said hand cycling has not only given him a new life with dreams and goals, but since regaining his independence, he serves to help others with spinal cord and brain injuries achieve their goals as well.
"It's all about paying it forward," Well said.
He founded the non-profit advocacy organization Independence Regained in 2010 to advocate and raise funds to get a specialized neurological rehab facility in North Louisiana.
"We see that there's a huge need. The closest facility of this type tier is down in Houston. You've got others like Shepherd's Center over in Atlanta, Georgia. People are having to jump around to different facilities around town and stuff just to get the care that they need," Wells said.
"People are leaving the state to try to get the care they need," Wells said. "No one should have to leave the state to get the services that they need when we are very capable of doing it right here."
Along with trying to raise funds for the neuro-rehab center, he's also preparing to leave for the U.S. Military Endurance Sports Program in March as part of Team4Mil, a group that supports wounded veterans and their families through cycling rehab programs and competitive cycling events.
On top of raising funds for the rehab center and the cycling program, Wells hopes to gain support from the community to earn a spot on the U.S. hand cycling team for the 2016 Paralympics.
Wells is holding a two-fold fundraiser all day on Tuesday, February 18 at Rotolo's Pizzeria in Shreveport to raise money to support all of his races and gain support to reach his goal of joining the U.S. hand cycling team.
Ten-percent of the proceeds will go back to Independence Regained to grow the adaptive cycling program and toward the neuro-rehab facility needed in North Louisiana.
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