Olympian Overcomes Paralysis To Walk At Wedding After $81,000 Crowdfund

Olympian Overcomes Paralysis To Walk At Wedding After $81,000 Crowdfund
Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today
The backflip used to be the signature move of two-time Olympic high jumper Jamie Nieto, but in April of last year it became his worst enemy for one short moment. While coaching jumpers at Azusa Pacific University in California, Nieto attempted to demonstrate his signature move, but after his foot slipped on the track Nieto landed on his neck. He woke up the next morning in the hospital and was almost fully paralyzed; he could barely move his shoulders. Some doctors warned he would never be able to walk again. 

Further complicating the matter, Nieto did not have health insurance. But he was determined to eventually make a complete recovery. To aid his efforts, the track community came together and raised over $81,000 for his medical bills through crowdfunding via AthleteBiz -- the same organization that later set up Gabe Grunewald's crowdfund, which has already raised over $54,000.

Soon after the incident, Nieto proposed to his girlfriend Shevon Stoddart with the promise that on their wedding day he would walk all the way down the aisle unassisted. (Stoddart is no slouch herself: she's a two-time Olympian in the 400m hurdles for Jamaica.)

Yesterday, Nieto made good on his promise, and took his steps up to the altar, completing a huge milestone on his long road to recovery.

"People keep saying my recovery is really fast," Nieto said to the AP. "I feel like it's not fast enough. I want to be better tomorrow. I'm built for speed, not for going slow. But I'm working on being the best walker I can be."

Watch Nieto take his final steps to the altar:

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