Paraplegic Surfer's Zest for Life

a woman smiling
Curated by
Denile Doyle
Content via In The News
In The News
Curated by
Denile Doyle

Bruno is an avid surfer who lives for adventure. After sustaining a spinal cord injury during a carjacking, Bruno rediscovered his bond with the ocean, and became a two-time ISA World Adaptive Surfing champion. Shortly after his accident, a friend encouraged Bruno to find surfing again. He returned to the ocean, skeptical and uncertain. On one attempt, Bruno reached a low point, and slipped off his board hoping to sink to the bottom. When this failed, he moved to rougher water, where he caught a wave. He instinctively began riding it. Bruno remembers the elation he felt in that moment when he connected with the ocean in an easy and familiar way.

paraplegic surfer hoses off at the beach

Bruno would later sail the Indian Ocean for a year, with his friend James, and adapt to life on his own without the use of his legs. He became skilled at completing the multi-step process of transitioning from his boat to shore. Once self-sufficient, Bruno travelled the world and occupied most of his time with a new adventure.

In 2004, Bruno was out on the Indian Ocean in Thailand during a devastating tsunami. When it was over, Bruno waited in deeper water, hoping to stay safe from the substantial debris around him. He soon found himself alone without food, fuel, or water. After three days, he came upon a yacht he had previously steered, and radioed its captain, who towed Bruno’s boat to safety.

After this close call, Bruno resolved to handle hardship without complaint. “I don’t get stressed or ponder or worry,” Bruno declares. He mastered the art of fearlessness, and adopted a new positive outlook on life, one devoid of complaint and self-pity.

“I don’t get freaked out by anything. Nothing scares me.”

paraplegic rides a customized bike that holds his wheelchair

Nowadays, Bruno rides a customized motorcycle that allows him to shift and brake with his hands. He stores his surfboard and wheelchair in the motorcycle’s sidecar. Bruno uses his upper body strength to transfer from the bike to the sidecar, and subsequently to the ocean. He welcomes the freedom the ocean provides him. He is simply an expert in his element. Bruno wants to build a “seahab” facility where other disabled people can master water-based activities such as surfing, kayaking, and diving, and strengthen their minds and bodies. Bruno continues to accomplish extraordinary things, and proves that perseverance, coupled with the right attitude, can transform your life in a positive way.

How do you live life to the fullest with a spinal cord injury? Tell us your story and we might feature you on AbleThrive!

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