Stories of Inspiration: Nichole Rider (Part 1)

From Nancy: Nichole Rider's story is truly inspiring to me. Every day, Nichole is a living embodiment of several of the messages given to me and detailed in "Awakenings from the Light." What strikes me is her positive attitude and determination to live her life to its fullest, no matter her circumstances. Read about this amazing woman's struggle to live a full life after a traumatic spinal cord injury, here in her own words...

Nichole Rider

By Nichole Rider, 2015

I grew up with an identical twin sister and a younger brother in the “All-American Family” on a ranch near Douglas, Wyoming. My parents and grandparents were huge influences on my life: their athleticism, determination, and work ethic still greatly affect me today. As children, my twin sister and I developed a love for sports and started playing basketball in grade school. It came easy to both of us, but we still spent many hours refining our skills. Our hours of practice and disciplined training paid off. We both went on to play basketball at the University of Wyoming (UW).

In 1995, as a senior at UW, my life changed forever. That November 25th was beautiful and it started like any other: I went out for my 3 mile run, which was a habit I had developed in grade school. I remember how amazing I felt that morning, how all of my senses seemed to be heightened at a level that I had come to know as “the zone.” Running felt fluid and effortless.

I spent the rest of the day in Ft. Collins, Colorado, with my then-boyfriend. As we drove back home to Wyoming in the afternoon, he fell asleep at the wheel and our little truck flipped 1 ½ times. The vehicle collided against a steep rock embankment and we came to rest upside down. I was suspended from my seatbelt with my neck bent at a 90 degree angle over my left shoulder. I don’t remember much about the accident except  telling my boyfriend to hit the brakes!

In hindsight, I feel that the accident was a Divinely-guided event. The vehicle on the road behind us was driven by an off-duty emergency medical technician (EMT), and he immediately stopped and called for help. Within 45 minutes I had an I.V. pumping me full of methylprednisolone, a drug given to people with spinal cord injuries (it minimizes swelling and the damage in the spinal column).

It took emergency crews over two hours to extricate me from the crumpled vehicle, then I was flown a hospital in Ft. Collins, Colorado. My injuries were severe and the initial prognosis was bleak. Hospital staff immediately put me on a respirator. It turns out that I had sustained a fracture of my cervical spine (neck) at the C-5 level and I would have died at the scene of the accident had I not been so physically fit. Because of the trauma to my spine, my diaphragm quit working which should have caused me to stop taking breaths. But my thoracic (torso) muscles were so strong that they somehow took over and kept me breathing. I also couldn’t feel my legs.

The doctors initially told my parents that I had a 50% chance of surviving the first night and if I did, I would be a quadriplegic. They also said I would most likely be in wheelchair the rest of my life. As you can probably imagine, the news devastated my parents but they stayed optimistic and held out the highest hope for my recovery.

My first night in the hospital, I fought with all the strength I had to stay here on Earth. I remember drifting in and out of consciousness and slowly feeling I was losing the battle. The room was dark, but then I saw a white light up in the right side of the room. I felt a profound sense of peace, so profound that it is impossible to put into words. It was then that I totally surrendered to God saying, “If it’s my time, then take me, or if I have things that I need to do here, then let me stay.” I finished by saying, “Thy Will be done” and surrendered into God, the Higher Power, and the Universe. When I surrendered, I felt the most incredible sense of peace and love – it’s impossible to put into words. God touched my soul so deeply that I still feel that connection today.

The first thing I said to the nurse the next morning was, “My butt is numb!” She stopped what she was doing and ran out of the room to get the doctor. I was confused as to why she ran out of the room so quickly. It turns out that the medical staff were ecstatic that I had regained feeling in my body, so they immediately started performing tests to get a baseline of my injuries.

Two days later, the neurosurgeon repaired my fractured neck. After surgery, he told that it was a clean break and he thought I had a chance of regaining movement below my neck, though he made no promises. It didn’t matter to me what the doctors said about my chances for recovery. My discipline and determination kicked in and I knew I would give it everything I had to get back on my feet.

If you have an inspiring true story of hope, positivity, overcoming obstacles, or living one of the messages in Awakenings from the Light, please contact me by visiting my website (