Once-paralyzed supercross rider Jimmy Button to bicycle cross-country to raise money for spinal cord research
Supercross rider Jimmy Button vividly remembers the accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Remembers it as if it happened only yesterday, instead of 11 years ago.
"I can still remember it clear as day. It was one of those basic little falls -- I wasn't going very quickly at all -- I just fell down very slowly and hit at the wrong speed and at the wrong angle. It pinched my spinal cord and I had instantaneous paralysis," Button told Outposts.
Button, then 26, was starting his 11th season as a professional motocross rider. However, on Jan. 22, 2000, his life would drastically change in an instant. While practicing for the evening’s AMA Supercross Series race at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, Button went down in the whoop section and immediately went numb.
"The second I hit the ground I knew, I instinctively knew what was wrong, and when medic workers and various track workers got to me I basically told them that I was pretty sure I just paralyzed myself because I can't feel anything or move anything below my neck."
The injury sustained was a pinched spinal cord in the C-2 to C-6 region of his neck -- his second and third vertebrae -- leaving Button paralyzed from the neck down and considered an incomplete quadriplegic.
"A complete injury is when the spinal cord is severed; an incomplete injury is where mine is, where it's a bruise where there's always a glimmer of hope that something might come back to you, you may regain some function," said Button.
Still, doctors didn't hold out much hope, and told family that Button would likely never walk again.
"My records, which we have, say on the very first page 'give family zero hope for recovery.' I think there were maybe some people in the rehab center thought I had a chance but not the initial doctors," Button said.