Ski accident left teen paralyzed. His remarkable attitude leaves hope
SOUTH OGDEN, Utah - Max Togisala was a very active teenager and avid golfer, but a ski accident unexpectedly and suddenly turned him into a paraplegic, paralyzing him from the waist down.
In February, the 18-year-old went on a ski trip with friends at Sun Valley Resort in Idaho. He tumbled on his skis when coming down a slope on his first run on the first day of the trip.
"I lost control, and it was pretty icy," he told FOX Television Stations. "And then, I was just going really fast."
While he was in an Idaho hospital, doctors said that he fractured his spine. He was then flown back home to Utah for surgery.
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"They [doctors] never came out and said ‘you’re never going to walk again.’ They didn't want to be too pessimistic or optimistic," Max's mother, Amber, told FOX Television Stations.
However, Amber searched "T12 Spinal Cord Injury" online and realized because her son’s spine was completely severed, there was very little chance he would walk again. Doctors told her every spinal cord injury is different and there’s always hope Max will recover.
Max said the possibility of never walking again didn’t hit him until he started physical therapy. However, he didn’t spend long feeling discouraged.
"I’m fine with how I am right now," he continued. "I just want to improve every day."
Max recently returned home to South Ogden, Utah in early April. He said his faith has helped him develop a positive attitude throughout his ordeal.
"Just trusting in the Lord really has helped me," he added.
"It’s really hard as a mother because I envisioned this life for my son that he’s going to live, and when that life takes a different path, all I can do is pray and turn it over to the Lord," Amber added.
The teenager has also received notoriety for keeping his upbeat attitude and an infectious smile despite the accident. He said people have even told him his positive outlook has brought joy and inspiration to their lives.
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Max Togisala recovering in the hospital. (Amber Togisala)
"Just smile every day and still enjoy life," he encourages others. "Being positive every day and smiling has helped me progress every day."
Max said he plans to attend college to study engineering, with hopes of improving wheelchairs for more physically active users, like himself.
He also hopes to get back into golf.
"I love golf, and I think there should be a way for me to still enjoy it," he said.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.