When the July 2014 school holidays began, 16-year-old Cody Gray was a vibrant young woman with an action-filled future ahead of her. Already impressive on the field, with a Touch Football career underway at a national level, she was in Year 11 at Glenunga International High School, and planning a career as a psychologist, and, of course, a sports coach. Everyone agreed she would excel at it.
But those holidays, everything changed.
On her family’s annual skiing trip to Falls Creek, Cody suffered a catastrophic fall. It was an accident that could have happened to anyone – she was already a confident and experienced skier, and safety-conscious enough to wear a helmet, but a bad landing after a small jump left her with a broken neck. Cody shattered the C5 and C6 joints in her spine, leaving her a quadriplegic.
She was rushed from the ski fields in an emergency airlift to Melbourne. At Austin Hospital, she underwent two complex operations over the next week, to remove the destroyed vertebrae and stabilise her spine with titanium. But the damage to her spinal cord was significant and permanent – she had lost the use of her legs, and effectively, much of her arms and hands, though retaining some movement in her shoulders.
Cody was transferred to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, to continue the long rehabilitation process. Already, she has rebuilt enough strength to breathe without a ventilator, have her feeding tube removed and regain her voice, temporarily lost due to the tubes down her throat that helped her breathe. (She has even been known to indulge in the occasional fast-food treat and reality TV binge – some things never change.)
With her incredibly strong family – mum Sharon, dad Mick and younger sister Riley, and a host of wonderful friends and family, she’s making huge inroads into her new life.
But the quality of that life depends on continued intensive therapy, and specialist equipment – both of which carry a heavy financial burden.
Cody is still a vibrant young woman with an action filled future ahead of her. It’s not the future she planned, but with your help, she can excel.