An update since his most recent rehabilitation trip at the Shepard Center has seen Leo go far beyond what doctors expected since his injury.
Television highlights, Olympic goals and a promising future has been all thanks to the growing support from the community, doctors, coaches, family and friends around him.
For daily updates on his progress check out his instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/sammarelli/
A recent workout posted by a personal trainer here: https://tinyurl.com/yxrnokd6
Feel free to send us an email anytime to get in contact: [email redacted]
Take care and have a nice day.
Hey guys, an update from Leo and the family.
We appreciate all the support thus far. Leo has come a long way in terms of strength, quality of life and outlook.
The outcome of Beyond Therapy connected him with a community of specialists, doctors and like-minded people that continue to support and keep in touch.
The strengthening of particular areas around his spine has also dramatically increased. Enhancing his mobility and day-to-day movements, Leo looks forward to what the future holds.
Moving forward, Leo will continue to pursue Olympic-tier training with the hopes of qualifying as an Olympian just a few years after this traumatic incident.
As he has proven before, the sky is the limit and I want to thank you for sharing his story with your friends and family.
Your ongoing care has been a foundation of strength and appreciation from all of us close to him and Leo himself.
Hello everyone, thanks for taking the time to stop by our page dedicated to Leo. A greatly loved friend, brother, and teammate.
Leo was a national level boxer with Olympic caliber talent. Starting his promising career as the Italian Interegional Champion, he went on to win 3 Golden Gloves and became the Vancouver city champion, eventually winning the National title.
( Leo with World Boxing Champ Vasyl Lomachenko October 2016)
Featured on mainstream news and Youtube, he dedicated himself to becoming a world class athlete, focusing on his goals with a fierce self discipline stretching beyond his 23 years.
However on the 13th of March 2017, Leo became a tragic victim when – on return from a family holiday – he was shot outside his home in North Vancouver.
(After one of many surgeries March 2017)
Leo suffered four bullets that doctors state, should have claimed his life. Instead Leo awoke in hospital, alive, but with severe damage to his spine and abdominal organs.
The police have yet to discover a motive and the shooter remains at large.
(Leo awaiting therapy - May 2017)
A coma and many surgeries later, medical staff diagnosed Leo with a complete spinal injury, along with ongoing complications to his lower abdomen.
(Therapy session July 2017)
It was stated he would never make a full recovery. However almost one year on, Leo has already defied so many of the doctors “never will” limitations.
(Best man in a wedding ceremony - September 2017)
As you can see from the pictures, Leo refuses to take the diagnoses lying down. Although his paralysis was supposed to stay at his mid section, he’s worked incredibly hard and already made impressive leaps in regaining sensation, muscle mass and some mobility down to his hips.
Determined on getting back to his sporting career, Leo has worked his body back into fighting fitness. Six months after the incident, Leo was recruited by the Nordic Skiing and Track-and-Field Paralympic teams, and has already competed at the national level all over the country.
(SuitX Program January 2018)
Despite severe pain from the bullets lodged in his spine and several associated injuries, he came second in the 800 m. race at the Nordic Skiing BC cup last month, and consistently exceeds expectations. Leo’s injuries have left him with several health conditions that make it challenging for him to reach his incredible potential; the most challenging of these is pain.
Due to his diligent efforts, Leo has been offered a chance to participate in the prestigious Beyond Therapy Program situated at Shepherd Center in the United States, one of the best facilities in the world. The latest research shows that after Spinal Cord Injury, a number of neural pathways still survive; they’re just not strong enough to conduct signals from the brain to the lower body.
Based on this principle, the Beyond Therapy program incorporates the use of robotics, functional electric stimulation and other innovative technologies to identify and strengthen these pathways, helping patients to regain functions, reduce pain and improve their quality of life.
However, there is a limited time frame in which Leo can most successfully benefit from this treatment; research shows that after one year, the ability for a spinal cord injury to heal is drastically reduced further.
Leo’s family and friends know it is imperative that Leo have access to this therapy as soon as possible, and have been working hard to put the necessary funds together.
But with only a handful of weeks left until the one year anniversary of this tragedy, time is running out. This is why we are asking for donations to fund this treatment which could prove life-changing for Leo.
Embarrassingly, the Canadian government will not contribute funds to patients whose injuries they deem “complete”. Repeated efforts to access this kind of therapy in Canada have been unsuccessful despite evidence that Leo has already gone above and beyond expectations in terms of recovery.
For more information on the program, check out the Youtube link below:
From all of Leo’s family and friends, and on behalf of Leo, know that all contributions are deeply appreciated.
- Garnet Samuel
- Andrew Jessiman
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