Kevin Ogar, a Colorado CrossFit athlete and coach, was paralyzed in what many are calling a “freak accident” at a fitness competition in Southern California last weekend. The CrossFit community is now rallying to help with Ogar’s recovery efforts.
The 28-year-old competitor was attempting a routine powerlift, also known as a “snatch” during the fitness competition when the devastating accident occurred. He successfully lifted the heavy barbell to his waist, then up and over his head, but then he let go of the bar allowing it to hit the floor behind him. Unfortunately, the barbell took a bounce against some other weights that were lying on the floor and came back up striking Ogar in the back and reportedly severing his spine. According to some reports, there was no medical staff or doctor on site at the competition. Ogar was rushed to a local hospital following the accident.
The latest reports on Ogar’s condition are that he is still unable to move below his waist and is facing a number of additional surgeries ahead as he attempts to rehabilitate from his injuries. He has already undergone two surgeries to place rods and screws in his spine. Ogar is expected to be moved to a Colorado rehabilitation facility soon.
The six foot one inch tall, 210 pound Ogar had reportedly been hoping to fulfill his dream of reaching the CrossFit Games, a national CrossFit competition that is broadcast nationwide each year. The winner of that competition can receive national sponsorship offers in addition to attractive financial prizes.
In addition to working as a CrossFit athlete and coach, Ogar is a part-time employee at Whole Foods. Unfortunately, neither of his jobs provide him with health insurance and Ogar’s medical bills following his “freak accident” are rapidly piling up. The Crossfit community is rallying to his aid. A fundraising website, KevinOgar.com, has been set up and by late last week had already raised more than $200,000 to assist Ogar as he recovers from his paralyzing injury. His training partner also worked to assist the paralyzed athlete in getting Medicaid to help defray his rising costs. Because Ogar depended upon his body, and specifically the use of his legs, to make a living as a CrossFit trainer and competitor, the financial impact of his injuries is particularly devastating.
Ogar’s friends and family report that he remains hopeful that he may someday walk again and that he is taking the position that this injury is a part of “God’s plan” for his life.
While Ogar does not blame the sport for his injury, CrossFit has come under fire for its risk of injury before. One orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine expert has said that she has seen a rise in injuries from the sport due to what she calls “overuse and bad technique.” She says that some of the blame lies in the sport’s ultra-competitive philosophy and emphasis on a message “to fight through the pain” rather than listening to one’s body and its realistic limits.
As the athlete attempts to recover from his paralyzing “freak accident,” his family has expressed their overwhelming gratitude for the support they have received as the CrossFit community has rallied around Ogar. In addition to monetary contributions, his family is also appreciative of the encouragement and prayers that have been offered.
By Michele Wessel