Five years ago, sports-mad Mike Siddall (29) from Bollington, Cheshire fractured his spine in a snowboarding accident and was told he’d never walk again.
However, in May 2012 Mike finished the Bupa Great Manchester Run and in September he intends to defy doctors’ predictions even further by taking part in the Bupa Great North Run.
Mike was working as a snowboard instructor in Switzerland, when the accident occurred “I’d done that run 100 times before,” says Mike, “'But I came off a jump funny and that was it, I just lay there unable to move.”
His brother Dan walked back up the mountain to help and was horrified by the condition he found Mike in.
“I knew something was seriously wrong when I saw a hand waving in front of me and realised it was my own arm and my brother was waving it. I couldn’t feel anything.”
Mike was taken to hospital by helicopter where specialists told him he was completely paralysed and it was doubtful he’d ever walk again.
“It was horrendous, I was so scared,” says Mike.
Major surgery and months of intensive physiotherapy in a specialist spinal unit in Sheffield followed.
“On my first day a guy my age came over in his wheelchair and told me not to hope too much, that nobody left there on foot,” says Mike.
“That was hard to hear. Doctors didn’t give me any hope either. But I was always trying to wiggle something, I never let myself rest.”
Gradually small sparks of feeling began to return. First Mike noticed it in his feet, then his legs and eventually he began to regain the ability to move.
“The day I made it all the way across the hall with two physios holding me was incredible,” he says.
“I’m still disabled, the way I run is far from pretty, but it’s amazing to be to do it.”
Doctors are astonished with Mike’s progress.
“I asked a spinal consultant how the Bupa Great North Run would affect my body,” Mike says, “But he didn’t know, he’d never heard of anyone who suffered injuries like mine running a half marathon.”
Mike now works as a sports lecturer at Macclesfield College and is expecting a baby with his wife Sarah who supported him throughout his injuries.
“I’m keen to put my experiences to good use,” says Mike. “In the future I’d like to work with disabled athletes. The 2012 Paralympics was an amazing event and I hope it will inspire more disabled people to take part in sport.
“Right now, I’m looking forward to becoming a father and I have high hopes for my continued recovery and the future of disability sport in Britain.”
Mike is taking part in the Bupa Great North Run to support spinal injury charity Aspire who provided Mike with invaluable help and support. To sponsor him visit: justgiving.com/mike-siddall.