Paralyzed BBC reporter treks to gorillasDec 26 06:17
For all of you Americans reading this, you're about to learn about a very awesome person with a spinal cord injury making big waves in the UK. His name is Frank Gardner and he is a journalist for BBC News, currently working as a security correspondent for this world renowned network. Frank Gardner is like the British version of John Hockenberry, but his injury occurred while on the job.
It was in 2004, while reporting in Saudi Arabia for the BBC, when Frank was involved in a terrorism attack (a shooting by al-Queda sympathizers), which killed his cameraman and left him a paraplegic. Despite the dangers he knew were there, Gardner loved the Middle East. Ever since he was a little boy, Gardner has been fascinated with this part of the world.
While in college, he decided to study Arabic (and can now speak it fluently) and he has a degree in Arabic and Islamic studies. Frank also had a nine year run as an investment banker with a Saudi bank. It was in 1995 when he decided to become a journalist with BBC World. What I love about Frank's story is that despite becoming paralyzed in the middle of his journalism career, he was back reporting for the BBC the following year, and has reported from places like Afghanistan and Columbia since returning.
And he's also proven to be a successful nonfiction author. Two years after his injury, he published his first book, Blood and Sand, which describes his 25 years working and living in the Middle East (it was a Sunday Times bestseller). And last week, he had an article published in The Times (a leading newspaper in Britain) describing one of the coolest things he's done since becoming a paraplegic - gorilla spotting in Rwanda. I bet I can count on two hands how many paraplegics have done this.
In his article, you’ll read his beautifully eloquent description of the experience. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and he didn't begrudge it, despite knowing he'd have to be much more dependent on others than he would've liked (including needing to be carried via a litter by four men). Wince-inducing, yes. Possibly embarrassing for a journalism veteran who had control of his legs for so many years? Absolutely. But he still did it.
The ending (I won't spoil it) makes his article more than worth reading. It drives home that you can do anything you want to from a wheelchair, if you have the wherewithal and assistance (and the ability to not give a damn if people stare) that is. And Frank, it seems, has finally figured that part out.
Have you put yourself in an exciting experience despite reservations? How did it go?
- Read Frank Gardner’s article, Rwanda: Gorilla spotting from a wheelchair
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.