Paralyzed Motorcyclist Remains Positive

By: Justin Joseph Email
By: Justin Joseph Email

An Omaha man is recovering at the Madonna Hospital in Lincoln after a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed.

On June 6th, 29-year-old Russell Canick was riding his motorcycle in a fundraiser in Logan, Iowa, a ride he'd done countless times before. This time, as he took a turn around a hill, Russ lost control of his bike and flipped uncontrollably.

"My front wheel got stuck in the dirt, in the mud or whatever and just started kind of flipping end over end."

A friend riding with him called for help. "I asked him where my arms and legs were at because I couldn't feel them and he said they were where they were supposed to be." The crash left him paralyzed below the neck.

"I got a phone call, my girlfriend Kelly said Russ was in a terrible accident, he's okay, but he's in really bad shape," says wife Dionne.

Russ is now learning to move his automated wheelchair by blowing into a tube. "A hard puff gets me going straight forward, a soft puff makes me turn right and a soft sip makes me turn left. I'm working on getting my muscles stronger so I can get rid of the sip and puff."

The accident has taught him not to take things for granted. "Don't take life for granted, that's for sure. This may sound cliché, but you never know what you have until it's gone."

Russ says Dionne and 5-year-old son Elijah have inspired him to keep working and he says he's hoping to regain some use of his hands. He says the accident has also taught him to stay positive, something his wife says is inspiring.

"It makes me happy to see that he is the same person,” says Dionne. “He's still really nice to everybody, he's still the sweetest guy. The hardest thing is he can't hug me. He's always been a touchy, feely guy and that's gone."

With their three-year anniversary in October, this is not the family portrait they imagined. They know they have a long road ahead, but it's one they say they'll be traveling together.

"She's been by me 100 percent," says Russell. "I just keep looking forward. I keep pushing every day."

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