One of my favorite quotes attributed to John Lennon is “Life is what happens while we’re making other plans”. That couldn’t be any more applicable than for Keane West. In 2000, he was 32 years old and had his own tree service business. On his 32nd birthday, while performing a routine trimming job, he walked out on a big oak limb while momentarily unhooked from his safety tether. When the two ton limb broke without warning, he and the limb fell 35 feet through a carport roof landing on the concrete driveway below.
He spent 3 months in Tampa General Hospital including 2 weeks in a medically induced coma. Then he went through 6 months of intense physical therapy. Nonetheless his life had changed in an instant. He was completely paralyzed from the area of his navel down and suffered a frontal lobe brain injury. He faced a life in a wheel chair.
Keane wasn’t about to give up hope or living a full life. He got involved with the Buoniconti Spinal Cord Institute at the University of Miami and has become one of their primary pioneers in testing advances in spinal cord injury rehabilitation.
Within a year of his devastating injury he was encouraged to try hand cycling. Through the generosity of two benefactors he received a Freedom Ride hand cycle. He threw himself into hand cycling, so much so that the frame of his cycle broke five times from over use. The Challenged Athlete Foundation then awarded him a $3500 grant for a German custom made carbon frame Schmicking TT hand cycle. After adding Zipp wheels and hubs, wind deflectors, custom holder for his Never Reach Bottle and a neck support, he had $16,000 invested in his hand cycle.
Today he rides with the Highland Pedalers in Sebring five days a week. His daily rides are 40 miles with a weekend ride of 60-100 miles. He has ridden numerous 100 mile races including the Homestead Freedom Ride and Tour of Sebring. In 2010 he set the Guinness Record for longest distance ridden on a hand cycle in 24 hours, 322.4 miles.
While there’s much more to Keane’s story, he is a true inspiration for each of us to make the most of our physical gifts.
Each case is different and past results do not necessarily indicate future results.