Taking a Stand: How Chris Leeuw is Offering Neurohope to the Paralyzed (via Indianapolis Monthly)

Chris Leeuw (Photo / Stephen Simonetto via Monthly)

Chris Leeuw (Photo / Stephen Simonetto via Monthly)

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Indianapolis Monthly — He wasn’t being a daredevil. His choice wasn’t some expression of defiant, idealistic independence or gratuitous death-cheating. Chris Leeuw was on a kayak trip with friends near Edinburgh in August 2010 when he decided to jump off an abandoned truss bridge—a high bridge, sure, 50 or so feet, but he knew the water was deep. He was 28. People do that sort of thing when they’re 28.

The problem was the guy next to him, who climbed up to make the leap as well. Leeuw didn’t know the guy, though he didn’t mind the company. They jumped at the same time, but Leeuw—at 6´2˝and 200 pounds—fell faster. The other guy drifted over toward Leeuw while falling; witnesses later said it looked as though Leeuw opened up a hole in the water for him. The damage from their collision was instant. Leeuw heard nothing, felt nothing. It’s not like you sense a crack or hear a snap when your spinal cord is hurt. He was fortunate to have air in his lungs at the time, so his motionless body rose to the surface by itself. But the ascent happened slowly, too slowly, and he reached that point when you’re underwater for too long and you can’t hold your breath anymore and your lungs need to draw in. Luckily, the guy who landed on top of Leeuw reached him and dragged him out of the river to a little beach, where Leeuw’s brain caught up with his instincts and started to churn. He thought of all those NO DIVING signs with the lightning bolts through the words from his days as a lifeguard. What did I just do to myself?

Read the full story at Indianapolis Monthly.

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About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

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