Robert Wickens vows to walk again, further clarifies his paralysis

Robert Wickens
IndyCar
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Robert Wickens knows he has a long road ahead of him after being rendered a paraplegic from injuries sustained in a horrific crash early in the ABC Supply 500 IndyCar race August 19 at Pocono Raceway.

The 29-year-old Canadian driver also knows the strong concern from his fans, media and the IndyCar community and how supportive they are for his recovery, rehabilitation and well-being.

Wickens publicly revealed for the first time late Thursday night on his Instagram account the extent of the spinal cord injury he suffered in the race, admitting he is a paraplegic, paralyzed from his chest down.

MORE: IndyCar: Robert Wickens reveals he’s paralyzed from vicious August crash

But Wickens is not letting his present condition impact his optimism for a better future condition.

One day after his Instagram post, Wickens took to Twitter to give further clarification on what he’s going through and what the future potentially holds.

Wickens vows in his lengthy tweet to walk again:

So we cannot tell you a definitive answer if I will walk again. But I have full intentions of doing just that.

Here’s the full text from Wickens’ most recent tweet:

“I just wanted to clarify a few things. There seems to be some confusion about what the word ‘paraplegic’ really means. Please read my statement below. Thank you all for your amazing support! You’re all a big part in helping me get back on my feet!

“There was no ‘announcement’ to confirm I was paralyzed. I’ve been paralyzed the moment I hit the fence pole in Pocono. We were very clear that I had a spinal cord injury in the press release issued by SPM (Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports), but I guess people are not aware of what that means and are just speculating.

“Paralyzed & paraplegic are paralysis from the level of injury on the lower half. I’m paralyzed from the chest down. The level of my injury which is T4.

“People may not be paraplegics forever. Since my spinal cord injury was ‘incomplete’ the nerves may be able to find a way back to my legs. Incomplete means the spinal cord was not severed, it was only bruised. In months time the swelling will go down and we will learn more on how much nerve regeneration happens.

“The doctors have told us every SCI (spinal cord injury) is different. Two people with the same injury may heal differently. One may walk again and one may not. Each body heals differently. So we cannot tell you a definitive answer if I will walk again. But I have full intentions of doing just that.

“The good news is, I already have most feeling and some movement back in my legs, so there is hope over the course of 24 months that I may regain enough movement to walk again! So far the signs are promising, but I’m trying not to get ahead of myself! I am just keeping my head down and working until my therapist and doctors tell me to stop!

“Thank you for all your support! And I hope this has brought some clarity on all of this.

“PS – Sorry for the long read.”

Here is Wickens’ actual tweet:

Wickens was injured when his race car touched wheels with the car of Ryan Hunter-Reay. The impact sent Wickens’ Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda airborne and into the Turn 2 catchfence at Pocono Raceway.

Wickens’ car bounced off the fencing, spun several times in mid-air before landing on the racetrack, and ultimately came to rest against the interior retaining wall.

After a lengthy and careful extrication process, Wickens was airlifted to Lehigh Valley – Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Upon examination, it was determined Wickens had suffered a spinal cord injury, thoracic spinal fracture, neck fracture, tibia and fibula fractures to both legs, four broken ribs, a broken right forearm, a broken elbow, fractures in both hands and a pulmonary contusion.

Wickens remained in the Allentown hospital for nearly two weeks before being moved to a hospital in Indianapolis. At both hospitals, he underwent several surgeries to treat his injuries.

He subsequently was moved to a rehabilitation facility near the Indianapolis hospital, and according to The Associated Press on Friday, has recently been relocated to another rehab facility in Colorado.

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Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”