Blue Valley High School Graduate, Alex Fraser, is no stranger to the water as Alex spent four years of high school on the swim team. During that time he broke the school record for the 100 yard breast stroke and was named team co-captain. Along with swimming, Alex was a member of the school band where he performed on the drum line. With a long list of accomplishments, Alex has never been one to shy away from hard work.
On March 17, 2014, Alex and his family were playing beach volleyball while in Mexico for Spring Break. After spending all day in the sun they decided to jump into the ocean for a quick cool down. As he had done previously in many pools, Alex ran down the beach and dove into a wave. Unexpectedly, the wave took a hold of Alex and sent him to the ocean floor where he hit his head resulting in a cervical spinal cord injury. He described the feeling as “being stuck”. Trapped under the water and unable to swim to the surface, Alex held his breath for over a minute. Intuition kicked in and his family knew something had gone wrong. His parents pulled him from the water and stabilized his head and neck on the beach by packing sand around their son.
Alex required one surgery to the front of his neck in Mexico to be medically stable for the flight back to the United States where he then had a second surgery to the back of his neck. Once in the states Alex spent 13 days in the ICU at Menorah Medical Center. Upon leaving Menorah Medical Center the family traveled to Denver, CO for Alex to receive inpatient therapy at Craig Hospital. Three months later Alex returned home for outpatient therapy at Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City (RIKC).
Alex participated in the RIKC Day Program three days a week. “The environment at RIKC was just so friendly it helped me to be in the mindset to really work hard in therapy,” he said. Alex’s primary goals at RIKC were to strengthen his upper body for using a manual wheelchair and to improve functional hand skills. With the help of his therapists, Alex quickly became more independent with his wheelchair mobility skills and functional activities.
Alex will not let his Spinal Cord injury define him. He is attending UMKC this fall to study business and is currently a member of the Kansas City Quad Rugby Team.