Hello, my name is Sean. I’m raising money to fund my master’s degree in environmental science and management at UC Santa Barbara. I have always loved nature and science, and I had planned on attending UCSB for a graduate program before my spinal cord injury. Unfortunately, when I was 6 units from graduating with my bachelor’s in biology I was a passenger in an automobile accident. The accident fractured six of my cervical vertebrae, and paralyzed me from the chest down. The accident was devastating because I was an avid surfer and I was told that I would never surf again. I also loved to skateboard, run marathons, and in high school I was a competitive gymnast and varsity pole vaulter. The accident stifled my love for environmental sciences. Being in a power wheelchair made me feel entirely disconnected from the natural world I wanted to study. But, one day I randomly met an experienced surfer and kayak guide who decided we were going to find a way to get me out of my chair and back in the surf. Since that moment we have actually ridden some pretty big waves. Adaptive surfing has reignited my passion for the outdoors. That’s why I want to continue my education in environmental science and management.
I learned about Swim with Mike from my friend Dillon Connolly. Dillon is a USC alumni and was the captain of the USC swim team. We met in Atlanta, Georgia at the Shepherd Spinal Center. I was working as a Christopher Reeves Foundation peer mentor when I met Dillon. He had just arrived at the Shepherd Center with a cervical spinal cord injury. I wish I could have met Dillon under better circumstances, but I was happy to spend time with him as a mentor and as a friend. He told me about Swim with Mike, and how it could help me fund my graduate studies. It seems like Dillon is the one mentoring me now.