Riverview para-cyclist sets sights on 2020 Paralympics
Published Friday, April 19, 2019 6:52PM ADT
Riverview, N.B. resident Matthew Kinnie has always been very adventurous.
“Pretty active guy, I really like being outdoors and doing outdoor activities,” describes Kinnie. “Anything like skiing, rock climbing, or canoeing, hiking, backpacking and that, was all the stuff I like to do in my spare time."
But 14 years ago, Kinnie’s life took an unexpected turn when he was out rock climbing with friends.
“My hand slipped and I pulled an anchor from the wall, and before my rope could catch me, I had hit a ledge. So I kind of fell backwards and I landed on the back of my head and neck.”
He knew right away that his injuries were serious.
“I remember saying to my buddy, I think I said it over 100 times over, ‘crap I screwed up, don’t tell Mel,’ because she was going to kill me,” remembers Kinnie.
“I was so young and naïve, that I thought ‘okay, it’s going to be a long road, but everything is going to be fine,” remembers Matt’s wife Melanie.
But everything was not fine. Matt soon learned that he had fractured his C6 vertebrae, which left him paralyzed from the chest down at the age of 22.
“I said ‘okay, but will he be able to walk again,’ recalls Melanie. “The doctor said 99% chance that he wouldn’t be able to walk again.
Matt says that he struggled with feelings of guilt after the incident.
“I felt so guilty, I felt so bad, and I think that kind of fueled my recovery and trying to get as much back as I could because I owed that to those around me.”
He faced his challenging recovery head-on and found a new passion in para-cycling.
“I started jumping on my old recreation hand bike and started doing that every second day.”
What started as just a hobby for the busy dad of twins, quickly turned into a new personal goal; qualifying to the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
“Usually I’m on the bike five or six days a week, for a total of nine to fifteen hours of ride time.”
“He loves it and it’s brought so much joy to his life, and it’s gotten him back to the person he was before the accident,” says Melanie.
A GoFundMe page dedicated to helping Matt with his equipment costs has already received over $4000 in donations, acts of kindness that Matt says he’s extremely grateful for.
“It’s not lost on me that people are sacrificing so that I can do what I’m doing right now,” says Matt. “But my hope is that it’s not going to be that way for the next 20 years, it’s just right now, and then maybe I can give back a little and support others to do the things that they love to do.”
An inspiring message from a New Brunswick man determined to make his next adventure a reality.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Eilish Bonang.