Damien Maya was 22 years old when his life suddenly changed one summer night in Houston. He was out celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a number of friends and he found himself trying to protect two female friends from a gunman outside of a nightclub. Damien was shot 10 times throughout his body and was able to survive by defeating the odds. Although suffering a T12/L1 spinal cord injury, Damien continues to defeat the odds in every way possible by putting forth every ounce of energy towards his recovery and motivating those around him, no matter their physical abilities or ailments.
“The brave do not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.” – Unknown
Damien is a firm believer in this quote and he shows it by the approach he takes at life. Without the risks Damien has taken before and after his injury, he might not be where he is or who he is today. Two and a half years after his injury, he sold his home and all of his belongings to fulfill his dream of living in Los Angeles. Against all advice, Damien moved to California by himself and began digging his feet into the foundation of the Project Walk family. He credits his amazing supporting cast of friends and family for his continuous progress and drive that pushes him to work harder every single day. Damien is always open to listen to anyone’s advice, opinions, fears or wishes, but the he refuses to listen to anyone telling him ‘no’ or that something is impossible. His tough exterior is just a flimsy shield that masks his warm hugs and insatiable lust for life. His goal in life is to be remembered not only by his accomplishments, but also by the fire inside of him that fuels his work ethic.
At the age of 22 years old, Vikash (Vik) Shivdasani had an accident on July 29, 2006 in Houston, TX that would change his life forever. After being out partying with some family and friends, Vik and his group decided to head back to his apartment to have an after-party. Being the responsible partyers that they were, they decided to take cabs back to Vik's place. However, when they had reached, Vik realized one of the cabs was missing. His apartment was on the third floor, and once they had arrived, he went to his balcony to call his cousin who was in the missing cab. His cousin said that they were close by. So Vik hung up the phone, and then proceeded to lean over the railing on his balcony to see if he could see any headlights indicating they had arrived. He leaned a little too far, lost his balance and the next thing he knew it he was being awoken on the ground; he had just fallen off his third floor apartment balcony and couldn't get up. He ultimately suffered a T10/T11 spinal cord injury, and was now paralyzed from the waist down.
During the first 4 years after his injury, he moved back to his parents house in McAllen, TX, and he put a lot of his time into his physical therapy and constantly researched for alternative remedies and treatments that would help reverse his paralysis. Thanks to the support of his loving parents, he traveled to different parts of the world such as Canada, Germany, Philippines, and India to try out these alternative therapies and treatments, but was unsuccessful. He realized though he was putting all his efforts into his recovery, he was avoiding embracing his day to day life because of it. Then in 2010, he stopped his efforts for recovery, and turned his focus into figuring out how he could make the best out of this life. He moved out of his parents house in McAllen, and moved back to his favorite city, Houston, to live his life independently. He got involved in the wheelchair sports community, and started playing wheelchair basketball and tennis. He is now part of the TIRR Hotwheels, a Houston based wheelchair basketball team that competes nationally, and he is part of SWAT (South West Adaptive Tennis), a Houston based wheelchair tennis group that competes nationally, as well. He got a real estate license and became an apartment locator; his website is GoHomeWithVik.com. He also started a hobby in comedy, attending open mics regularly, and gets on comedy shows around town every so often. Comedy is his favorite way to express himself and truly believes that life is best lived by not taking it so seriously. Also, he has done some inspirational speaking and writing, and is working towards his goal of being a funny inspirational speaker and author. You can see some of his writing on his blog: RollWithVik.com.
In the midst of all of his activities, he realized that though his life focus had now become about making the best of his situation, he had lost sight of a key component to his fulfillment: PHYSICAL THERAPY. He had known about Project Walk and always wanted to try it, but none of their facilities were ever near his area. In 2014, he decided to do some research and learned that there were other facilities similar to Project Walk located in Dallas and Austin. Being that he lives in Houston, he was thrilled to know that these facilities existed in Texas, and was planning out how he was going to work out regularly commuting to them while living in Houston. Then in December 2014, miraculously, Project Walk opened up in Houston. He took this as a sign from the Universe and immediately contacted them so he could get started and add Project Walk to his ever growing list of activities. He started in February 2015, and his motto is to "Get Walking Or Die Trying." Judging from his previous efforts at his recovery, he understands that this is going to be a long and grueling process. But his determination is high, and he is in it for the long haul. And the best part about it is that now he is able to implement his recovery efforts with his current lifestyle.
Vik believes his experience has propelled him to having a patient and positive outlook on life that has proven to be very uplifting to others. He enjoys being an inspiration to others, and has also recently joined the Connections Peer Network by the NSCIA (National Spinal Cord Injury Association) to mentor people with new spinal cord injuries and to be a speaker for spinal cord injury support groups to add to his inspirational efforts. He enjoys helping others as it is a humbling reminder that everything he has gone through has not been in vain; it has all happened for a reason.