"You'll never walk again."
“I'm Casey Kammel, a personal trainer by trade, Ironman by choice. After I broke my neck in Hawaii on vacation and was confined to a wheelchair, I thought life was over.”
But it wasn't. Instead, it was a new beginning.
On August 20, 1994, a relaxing Hawaiian vacation ended tragically when Casey Kammel hit his head on the bottom of a swimming pool and broke his neck. He sank motionless. Having crushed his C4 vertebrae, Casey was immediately paralyzed from the neck down and was flown via helicopter to a trauma center on Oahu, a flight that would begin the journey of a lifetime.
Enduring extensive surgery, the doctors used his hipbone to create a new vertebrae fusion in his neck. “They screwed a steel halo into my skull attached to a non-removable body brace. I felt like a prisoner in my own body. I couldn't move. I would just stare at the ceiling for hours. This was a dark time," says Casey.
After the life-changing surgery the doctors told Casey, “You will never walk again.” The words were devastating, but Casey refused to accept their prognosis. During his three weeks in the hospital in Hawaii and another twenty-six days in Long Beach Memorial Hospital, he endured intense therapy and began to regain movement. He had to re-learn basic daily functions like brushing his teeth, getting dressed and learning to walk again. Soon Casey was back in the gym on his own. Still wearing a steel halo brace and confined to a wheelchair, Casey was training his clients and working out with as many machines as he could. Within 3 months he was up and walking with a 4-pronged cane. By 5 months, he set the cane down and never looked back.
“I fall almost daily, but I get back up. I'm still partially paralyzed on my entire right side, and my hand is closed like a fist. I deal with issues no one knows about, but it doesn't stop me. For one day, try to tie your shoes with one hand. For me, it's every day. But I keep going.”
With dedication, hard work and unwavering commitment, Casey proved the doctors wrong. He is now proud to be a competitive physically challenged athlete. Without hesitation, he pushes through with a perseverance he never could have imagined. Maintaining a busy schedule and exercising daily, Casey enjoys a healthy and active lifestyle.
Utilizing the experiences Casey gained from his tragedy enables him to motivate his clients from within. He has turned his personal tragedy into triumph and has fulfilled his dream of creating Executive Fitness. Along with his wife Lisa, they operate a private training gym and a corporate wellness company. Their two daughters know all about the obstacles their father has overcome and they proudly think of him in their own personal endeavors. If you happen to be in Long Beach, you will surely see Casey running, swimming or cycling. Give a honk and a wave and let him inspire you to live your day to its fullest!