At one of the biggest SCI Connections meetings ever last Thursday, Aaron Baker, star of the documentary, "Coming to my Senses", made a surprise personal appearance during Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Rehab Dept.'s March SCI Connections meeting, marking an evening that was filled with a message of hope and empowerment.
NorCal SCI collaborated with SCVMC by underwriting a grant to make the special evening possible and indeed, it was a special occasion. We saw lots of familiar faces as well as a number of new ones which was great to see and everyone was treated to a great meal, an inspiring documentary and the bonus of Aaron and his wife, Katie, joining us. The audience was made up of newly-injured as well as those with long-term injuries.
The 39-year-old Aaron was as humble and forthcoming as they come, sharing some of his most difficult and intimate moments in life as well as his most memorable and gratifying. The film dives deep into not only his life story but also his family's. And the audience peppered him and Katie with nearly 25 minutes worth of questions which they graciously took time to answer.
In one gripping scene in the film, Aaron shares with his mother how he slipped and fell in the bathroom and couldn't get up for nearly 20 minutes and that at one point, as he was struggling to stand, he inexplicably found himself stuck behind the toilet. This comes from a man who could otherwise walk but demonstrated the unpredictability of his injury and abilities.
His wife, Katie, shared that at times, people looking in think that Aaron has recovered but that's far from it and that he continues to recover.
The highlight of the documentary is Aaron's 20-mile walk across Death Valley which took him six days to complete. He said that he loves the desert and that to him, it's a beautiful space and made sense to him to do the walk there as it was a safe environment. But make no mistake about it. The film was not about everyone can walk if they set their mind to it. In fact, Aaron readily acknowledged that he still uses a manual wheelchair with a SmartDrive to get around most places where he has to travel long distances and is unsure of the surroundings in which he can find himself in even though he can stand up and walk if required. Around his residence though, he prefers walking.
Aaron spent nearly a year in hospital and rehab following his motocross accident at the age of 20. He's 19 years post-injury and in 2011, co-founded the Center of Restorative Exercise (C.O.R.E.) in Northridge, an integrated fitness facility that bridges the gap between rehabilitation & regular fitness.