Jamie Nieto is used to taking on challenges. He’s a two-time Olympic high-jumper. But nothing could have prepared him for the challenges that lay ahead when in April 2016 he suffered a spinal cord injury that left him partially paralyzed from the neck down. Following the accident doctors performed a five-hour surgery which involved fusing together his C3 and C4 vertebrae.
Despite the obvious difficulties he faced in the coming weeks, months, and years, Nieto proposed to his girlfriend a few months after his accident and vowed that he would walk next to her down the aisle. It was a tall order since even tying one of his shoes for the first time took him 45 minutes, but he was determined to live up to his promise.
In April 2016, while he coached a team of Olympic hopefuls, Nieto suffered a life-altering injury.
Following his accident, Nieto’s doctors estimated that he might only regain about 30 percent of his previous function. That was a number the Olympian couldn’t live with. So, like any Olympian training for their next big event, Nieto got to work.
As someone who competed in the 2004 and 2012 Olympics he was already used to a tough workout, but training for a race would pale in comparison to the amount of work he would need to put in in order to regain function in his lower body.
“I felt like God told me I’m going to make a full recovery,” Nieto told the Los Angeles Times. “I’ve just got to go through this.”
Every day since his surgery, the athlete worked extremely hard, documenting his journey on social media. According to the Los Angeles Times, the first time he walked without any assistance, he only went three steps. Gradually he was able to increase the amount of steps he took, and on the one-year anniversary of his accident he took 80 steps.
Months after, he made a commitment to his girlfriend and vowed he would walk down the aisle on their wedding day.
Although 80 steps was still a ways off from the 130 steps he would need to take as he walked hand in hand with his new bride down the aisle, Nieto was set on accomplishing his goal and nothing would get in his way.
On July 22, 2017, 15 months after his accident, Nieto accomplished his goal.
“It’s a monumental day so I think I need to do monumental things,” Nieto told the Associated Press before his wedding ceremony.
Without using any other assistance besides his wife’s arm, Nieto walked down the aisle.
Now that Nieto has accomplished his goal of walking next to his bride, it’s unclear what his next target will be. Whatever it is we know that given enough time, Nieto will achieve that goal too.