On July 22, former Olympic high jumper Jamie Nieto walked his new wife, Shevon Stoddart, 130 steps down the aisle after being paralyzed from the neck down after a high-jumping accident on April 23, 2016.
The 40-year-old, who cleared 7 feet 8 inches to finish fourth at the 2004 Athens Olympics and sixth at the 2012 London Olympics, sustained a spinal cord injury while coaching aspiring jumpers in Los Angeles. When he awoke, he could only shrug his shoulders and flex his quadriceps muscles.
Nieto pushed himself through rehab, and his future wife, a Jamaican Olympic hurdler, stood by his side every step of the way. Stoddart fed him when he had no use of his arms, and helped him get dressed and transfer from his wheelchair.
They had been talking about getting married before his injury and Nieto took his accident as a sign. “When I had the accident, it was clear to me, ‘What are we waiting on?’ You never know — you could be gone tomorrow,” he said.
He proposed to Stoddard last October from his wheelchair, and from that point on, made it his goal to walk her down the aisle, which she fully supported. “I keep pushing him forward,” said Stoddart after their engagement. “After he (walks down the aisle), I’m going to be like, ‘OK, now jog. Now run.’ I continue to push him so he can be the best he can be.”
Nine months and 130 steps later, the married couple looks forward to spending their lives together. “I’m definitely blessed and super happy to be here,” said Nieto. “I’ve worked really hard to get to this point and I think it’s just the first step to many more in my recovery.”
Read the full story in the LA Times