Leon sustained his spinal cord injury in a snowboarding boarding accident. With a young family, both Leon and his wife had to adapt to their new family dynamic.

"I sustained my injury whilst living in America. We were running a hotel at the time and had two daughters who were still quite young.

My strong girls

"Jessica, our youngest, was only four years old and doesn’t remember much before the accident. On the odd occasion she’ll remember certain things like how I use to give her piggy-backs up the stairs and I think she had a vague understanding of what was happening. She would visit the hospital and do drawings for me.

"Lauren, our eldest, was out snowboarding with me when the accident happened.  She was only six at the time but was the one that alerted people that I’d fallen and wasn’t getting up.

"When I was injured we’d been living in America for about five years. As you can imagine, we had to pay for absolutely everything. We had health insurance, but that doesn’t cut it when the surgery alone was $140,000. We had big bills coming in, and I think that scared my wife, Amanda. It’s traumatic because you’re struggling with your new body and you’ve got this financial struggle as well. For Amanda to have to deal with me and the consequences of my accident and try to keep us going, she found it tough. But she’s a strong lady, all of my girls are.

Back to what we know

"We’d spent around eight years living in America and for the last three years I had a spinal cord injury so we knew what was available and what support there was; which was very little.

"Amanda had talked about moving back around a year after my injury but it took the few years to sort things such as selling the business, getting a house in England and getting the kids school places. So it was good to get involved with Aspire through the ‘Walkers’ group at Stanmore when we came back to England so that we had a support network.

Leon and his daughters in his new hand bike  Leon in his hand bike

Included again

"I’m so glad we were able to get the Aspire Grant for the Freewheel and Mountain Bike Wheels. I can go off road and it’s helped getting back to, almost, normal life. I think the biggest changes as a Dad are mostly physical; I can't lift my girls and give piggy-backs, but these days that’s less important to them! Snowboarding with Lauren skiing next to me was our "thing", which we’ve struggled to replace; the closest thing is us going to the Car Boot sale. But the new equipment means I can go out with the girls and Amanda on walks and bike rides with the dogs and it helps me to keep active. My regular wheelchair made these things practically impossible. This grant gave me the ability to do these things with my family and meant that I felt included again.

A slightly different relationship, a stronger bond

"I struggle with the fact that I can’t be their ‘protector’. We went to the Capital Summertime Ball and considering recent events, I was nervous. As well as 80,000 people leaving the stadium (which made me insist we left before the last act), the thought of danger such as a terrorist attack made me very aware of my vulnerabilities. Of course, this is all hypothetical insecurity - but it entered my mind.

"The girls (and they say it) love me immensely and are glad I am around in any physical state, but they worry for me. I hate to have done this to them; it's not their job! But our lives haven't suffered hugely; we still go on holidays and manage most things. The things I can't do don't arise often, and I’m probably the only one who feels upset. They joke that we get good parking and help through airport security. That makes me giggle and realise they have a good handle of things!

"Our relationship is slightly different, but it’s no less of a relationship. If anything we probably have a stronger bond than we would’ve had in ways. I love my girls, my girls love me, and that’s all that matters."

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