At the end of July, 2008, I was on cloud nine. I had just finished an incredible senior hockey season, which resulted in receiving letters of interest from division 1 and division 3 colleges; ran the Boston Marathon; signed a Junior A hockey contract; and graduated from an elite New England prep school.

On August 2, 2008, while skating in a summer hockey tournament, I hit the boards head first and was immediately paralyzed while also suffering a severe brain injury.

After a month and half of not making much progress in Boston, I was accepted at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, which is the world’s most comprehensive research center for paralysis. After eight months of physical and mental rehabilitation in Miami, Florida, I regained control of my body, and was cleared to play hockey again.

After a very successful summer camp, it seemed as though I was going to achieve everything that had once been ripped away from me, and have the opportunity to play college hockey at a competitive level.

Then on October 1, 2009, while skating in practice, I became entangled with a teammate and crashed head-first into the boards. As soon as I hit the boards I knew I was paralyzed again. I was airlifted from Salem, NH to Boston Medical Center, where I was diagnosed with injuring a completely different part of my back than my first injury. The doctors who treated me said that I had a better chance of winning the lottery five times in a row than having two separate accidents of this type. Now, 20 years old and paralyzed from my waist down, I was determined to beat the odds again. Miraculously, in three months, I regained some sensation in my legs and walked several feet with the aid of a walker and my physical therapists.

On January 11, 2010, while stopped at a red light, my father and I were hit by a distracted driver, and sent into the windshield. I was immediately rushed by ambulance into Boston where Doctors diagnosed me with re-injuring back. I had lost all feeling and movement in my legs.

I was at a crossroads and didn’t know if I wanted to live or die. However, one thing was certain; if I was going to choose to live, I would be forced to find my purpose and face my challenges head on.



Since Thomas Smith’s second accident, he has sourced his challenges into opportunities for others and himself. He has channeled his energy into a mission to change the world and empower people to believe that anything is possible. To learn more about the impact that Thomas can make on you, your company or institution, please click below. Thank you.