Josh Wood was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1981. He was riding bicycles before he could walk, skied at two years old, and rode dirt bikes when he was five. These activities led him into a life bursting with adrenaline-fueled sports.
In an interview with OZPWC, Wood was quoted saying; “We lived on 80 acres, dad built me a little moto track which I rode every night after school, and all day over the weekends, I was never off it. Around 1992, snowboarding came into my life, I found a sport that was an equal in my life to dirt bikes. As they are two very expensive sports I was forced to make a decision, we lived close to the mountains so snowboarding became my priority. I honestly feel I would have gone further with dirt bikes but we didn’t have the financial backing nor the time my parents needed to put into traveling to races.”
At the age of 15, he was given an opportunity to spend four months in the Swiss Alps as an exchange student. After graduating high school he became a professional snowboarder. Wood was between jobs at 18, living off savings, and all he wanted to do was ride and live the party lifestyle.
He was scheduled for a job interview on June 25th, 2000 and he never arrived due to a horrendous accident. Wood and his buddies built an 80-foot jump on a mountain that only had an asphalt road below. A mistake could have proven fatal; instead, lack of commitment caused Wood to sustain a terrible accident. One rule to live by is to never hesitate, a person must be fully committed when participating in extreme sports. Unfortunately, Wood hesitated as he was speeding toward the ramp and he almost lost his life because of a rookie error. He launched, rotated upside down, and landed head first onto the road below. Fortunately, he was calm, conscious, and able to tell his friends that his neck was broken.
Wood was transported to the hospital where x-rays showed C5, C6, C7, and T1 were crushed. He was a quadriplegic at this stage, paralyzed from the neck down. His doctor gave him a 3% chance of recovery, insisting he would never get out of bed because his spinal cord was so damaged. Wood felt like he had died and went on to say, “The doctors didn’t think I’d survive the 4th day”.
Wood and his mom knew that doctors could repair him, yet not heal him so they worked extremely hard to prove them wrong. Five months later, Wood, walked out of the hospital.
He had not gone for any mainstream rehabilitation; instead he trained with a physical therapist three times a week and swam everyday. Two to three years later, he was no longer using a wheelchair and within 7 months of stepping out of the chair, he rode his dirt bike. Three years after riding the dirt bike, he rode his snowboard again. He definitely proved the doctors wrong even though less than 5 % of his spinal cord functions. It is hard him physically as well as mentally.
He tells his story to groups hoping to reach at least one person whose life might change as a result of listening and hearing Wood’s words. He envisions helping people find their inner strength as a gift that he is able to provide. This gift may give someone else second thoughts about giving up and just keep pushing through life’s struggles.
“I make a big goal then I break that big goal into small goals, steps to get me to where I want to be, I celebrate every milestone and never take it for granted, mentoring 100’s of injured people over the years I’m constantly reminded to be grateful, it can always be worse off, there’s people out there that would love to have my “problems”, I don’t have much time for self-pity”, said a grateful Josh Wood.
He shared his power of self-will and resilience of the human spirit in his book “Relentless: Walking against all Odds”. This is a book about not giving up nor giving in. Jet Pilot teamed up with Wood and made him an ambassador through mentoring and providing speeches, which may help people who struggle with direction and goals.
“We are going to do a collaboration T-shirt, which I will be handing out to kids to help make them feel they are a part of something. Many kids these days are dropping out of school, fighting, rebelling, turning to drugs and alcohol and unfortunately suicide, simply because they may not feel they are a part of something, their community, school, home etc. It can only take a simple gift, gesture to change a life.”