Grant Korgan had everything he’d ever wanted – a career in nanotechnology, a new marriage, and success at world-class adventure sports. He had big goals for the future and was well on his way to achieving them.
In March 2010, everything changed. While snowmobiling in the Sierra Mountains of California, Korgan overshot a jump, hit the ground, and snap. Like flipping a switch, everything below his waist turned off. He had fractured his spine and required nine hours of reconstructive surgery.
Korgan held onto the hope that he’d still achieve his goals from the past. Today, he draws on this life-altering event to inspire others and provide them with something crucial for recovery – hope.
“We as a people aren’t defined by what happens to us, we’re defined by how we deal with it, and who we become through that process,” Korgan said recently at the Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation. “I could choose to keep putting one foot in front of the other, or I could give up on life.”
Korgan chose to reclaim his active lifestyle, despite his paralysis. He was guided by three principles – to decide on what he wanted in life, to focus on what was working, and to choose positivity through adversity.
“When you choose positivity, a door opens, then another door opens that leads to another door, which leads to a French door, then you’re in an auditorium,” he said to his audience in Chattanooga, Tenn.
His positive outlook helped Korgan stay focused on old goals and to achieve new ones. In 2012, he became the first paralyzed athlete to sit-ski to the South Pole.
Korgan’s appearance at Siskin was sponsored in part by Unum, a leading provider of disability insurance in the U.S. and the U.K., headquartered in Chattanooga. In 2015, Unum processed more than 400,000 new claims from customers with debilitating illnesses or injuries.
The risk of disability is significant: The Council for Disability Awareness reports that one in four 20-year-olds will experience a disability before they retire.
In his autobiography “Two Feet Back,” Korgan reminds us, “that regardless of ability (or perceived dis-ability), every single one of us has the power to come to the awareness that you can achieve everything you desire in this life.”