Spinal Rehab for Nolan Smith

"Nolan will bounce back. People that smile that big always do."

Those were the words from one friend after learning that Nolan Smith had experienced a severe spinal chord injury (SCI) that left him paralyzed from the neck down.

Anyone who has met Nolan knows that he is a healer, a great giver and lover of life. He takes pleasure in the little things, whether it's a walk in the park with his dogs, Charlie and Brain, a good glass of wine with his partner, Kim, or a campfire by the lake with their girls, Iliyana (12) and Serena (10).

(Nolan relaxing on the beach during a family vacation to Mexico, 2016)

Nolan cares deeply for his family and friends and makes the time to show them how much he appreciates them. 

On September 29, 2017, Nolan was with a group of his longtime friends when he was involved in a diving accident in unmarked waters. He was conscious when they pulled him from the water and during the air ambulance to Kenora's hospital and then to Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.

The following morning, Nolan went into surgery to have his C4/C5 neck bones fused. The surgery was successful.

(Nolan at one of his best friends Jeff's wedding, 2016)

(Kim, Nolan and their friend, Candace, supporting the annual Art City fundraiser, 2013)

Recovery will take time. Right now Nolan is learning to breathe again on his own. The next steps are learning to swallow so that he can begin eating on his own, rather than being dependent on a feeding tube.

The doctors are confident that breathing and eating will come soon, and the next steps are to work on the flickers of movement he is experiencing. So far, biceps, triceps and some  spasms through the legs are noteworthy.

Nolan's time in hospital will amount to several months (6-8 months is the estimate). Because Nolan was employed as a server in the hospitality industry he is without benefits. His family will need to deal with a massive loss of income and find other ways to fund his care and purchase assistive devices such as a wheelchair. There are many renovations that are needed for their house in order for Nolan to be able to go home to his family.

(Nolan and Kim on a family vacation in Montreal, 2017)

(Kim, Iliyana, Serena and Nolan during a recent photo shoot: credit, b2 photography)

(Nolan and Serena at a friend's wedding in 2013)

Nolan's spirit is strong and he is determined to live his new life to the fullest, and fight to regain as much movement and independence as possible.

He has a love of food, friends, family and travel that will not be shaken by this life event.

(Nolan and Kim whitewater rafting in Costa Rica, 2015)

(Nolan and his dog, Charlie, at Spruce Woods Provincial Park, 2011)

With the help of physiotherapists, he is already working on strengthening his biceps and triceps. Doctors will not provide any prediction on how much movement he will regain until the swelling from his injury goes down. It will be several more months before we have more definitive answers.

Your donations will help Nolan continue his rehabilitation beyond the few months in hospital, support his family through the transition, equip his home for his new abilities and purchase a wheelchair. 

Thank you for being part of Nolan's recovery in whatever capacity you are able. Throughout this time, the thing that has moved us most to tears is the outpouring of support from friends and family.

In his words, "We are truly blessed."

(Nolan with one of his physiotherapists, Amber, working on tricep movement at HSC's physio department, November 2, 2017)
  • Megan O’Connor  
    • $150 
    • 32 mos
  • Wayne and Pat Worth 
    • $200 
    • 34 mos
  • Mike Sands 
    • $35 
    • 37 mos
  • Isabelle Forget  
    • $100 
    • 37 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $300 
    • 37 mos
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Kim Nicole 
Winnipeg, MB
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