Paralyzed Former Olympian Walks Down the Aisle With His Wife: 'It Was a Goal for Me'
By ex-Olympic high jumper Jamie Nieto's wedding day, he reached his goal of taking 130 steps down the aisle with his wife as his only support.
Walking down the aisle was no walk in the park for this Los Angeles groom, but he made it look easy.
Former Olympic high jumper Jamie Nieto, 40, walked his bride, former Olympic hurdler Shevon Stoddart, down the aisle following their wedding Saturday, just a year after he was paralyzed in a freak accident.
“Words really can’t describe the way it felt to be able to walk my bride down the aisle and to be able to stand there and partake in the whole day,” Nieto told InsideEdition.com. “It was truly one of the best days of my life."
The pair was even able to top off their big day by sharing their first dance as newlyweds.
In April 2016, Nieto was coaching and attempted to do his signature back flip, but he fell and landed on his head.
He recalled that his body was numb, he couldn’t move his arms or legs, and he had trouble breathing. He was immediately rushed to the hospital.
“I then panicked and thought, ‘Please God don’t let me be paralyzed,’” he said. “A lot of panic and fear ran through my head.”
Doctors gave him the devastating news, but since his release from the ICU, Nieto said his number one goal was to get back to his healthiest self.
When he proposed to Stoddart six months after his paralysis, his new goal was to walk out of the church with his bride on his arm.
“I felt like it would be a good start to the rest of my life and recovering,” he explained. “We plan to have kids one day, and I want to be able to run around and walk with them and play with them. Getting back healthy and us going back to our lives is important and I think this is the first step.”
Four or five times a week, Nieto would work up to his rehabilitation by going to physical therapy, which he compared to training for the Olympic Games.
“It’s hard in respective ways,” he said. “There’s days when training for the Olympics, I’d come home dead tired. There’s days I’ll come home from rehab dead tired.”
By his wedding date, he reached the goal, taking 130 steps down the aisle with his wife as his only support.
"It was just really touching because you know, he really wanted that day to be special," Stoddart said. "To know that he was so committed to doing that and having the day be extremely special because of that, it’s just like his love and his fight and determination to make that happen.”
Nieto said completing another high jump is not among his list of goals. Instead, he hopes to work on his career in acting and producing, including a documentary about his recovery.
Stoddart is currently working on a musical album filled with songs she wrote to encourage Nieto during his rehabilitation.
"It has been a challenging time [but] we see the good out of it,” she said. “It definitely makes us stronger as a couple."
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