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The Injury

On July 1, 1970, I awoke early to go to work on a farm just east of Plymouth, Wisconsin. Plymouth is a small community approximately 50 miles directly north of Milwaukee.

It was unusually hot that day, with temperatures well into the '90s. After work, I returned home, hungry and exhausted. I fixed myself something to eat and called my friends asking what we might be doing that evening. Going to "BAB" for a swim was the unanimous decision. "BAB" was a popular, man-made, private swimming hole approximately one mile north of the Road America racetrack, 3-4 miles from where I lived. "BAB" was short for Bare Ass Beach and a popular spot for local teens. It was hidden from any public view and lined with soft sand; a very welcoming place for anyone wanting to do a little "skinny-dipping." "BAB" was the perfect place for cooling relief on a hot summer day.

Upon arriving, several of us swam to the opposite side of the pond where there was a slight ledge, making it the best location to dive into the water. Even though the water was relatively shallow at the immediate shoreline, it dropped off quickly.

Four of us took turns diving in, one immediately after the other. I was the last to dive. When it was my turn, I ran toward the pond as fast as I could. Just as I was planting my feet for the dive, I noticed my friend directly in the spot where I was about to land. Although I tried to stop, my momentum carried me, off balance, through my dive. As a result, I landed in 2-3 feet of water, hitting bottom headfirst. The impact was so violent it crushed the third and fourth vertebrae in my neck and severely damaging my spinal cord. I was paralyzed instantly, unable to move my arms or legs. Unknown to me, I had just become a C 3-4 quadriplegic. I had sustained a traumatic spinal cord injury. My life would never be the same.