Sydney Fowler

"Without paralysis, my story wouldn’t be a positive influence. Do I still hope that, in my lifetime, there will be a scientific breakthrough that cures paralysis? Absolutely! But, until then, I choose joy. I choose to be grateful. I choose to accept this path and live life to the fullest with a positive, resilient spirit."

At the age of 13, Sydney was paralyzed due to a staph infection that seeded in her spine and compressed her thoracic spinal cord. After two emergency spine surgeries (laminectomies) to remove the infection and decompress the spinal cord, the compression resulted in significant, cross-sectional damage at the T-4/T-5 level, leaving her paralyzed from the lower chest down. Having excelled as a player on a nationally-ranked club volleyball team, she was soon introduced to the world of adaptive sports. That’s when she realized she could still be an athlete and says, "it just looks a little different than it looked when I was upright."

She returned to CrossFit, and now competes in the adaptive division, where during the 2022 CrossFit Games she finished the competition ranked 8th in the world. Sydney also learned to waterski in a seated position with specialized equipment and trains regularly on a local lake with a Paralympic coach. She's a member of the Shepherd Skiers competitive waterski team with hopes of one day competing at the world level. After learning wheelchair tennis she was recruited to play wheelchair tennis as an affiliate player for Clemson University. Sydney is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing with a minor in Economics at Anderson University.