In My Own Words: Marshall Garber

November 13, 2013
When a spinal cord mass left him paralyzed, Marshall’s life changed forever. It changed again during an adaptive ski trip arranged by Kennedy Krieger.

Marshall Garber

Marshall Garber is a patient at Kennedy Krieger’s International Center for Spinal Cord Injury.

A few years ago, I developed a mass on my spinal cord that left me paralyzed. My family sought out the best place to help me, which was Kennedy Krieger. Going into treatment, I didn’t have any intention of forming a family there, but in a way, I did. Multiple people at Kennedy Krieger had an impact on me, but Dr. Becker has been one of the most influential people in my recovery.

During an adaptive ski trip to Colorado that Dr. Becker arranged for patients, I told him that I had come to terms with the knowledge that I would never walk again. The next day, I had a test done as part of a study Dr. Becker was working on, and he told me that my muscles were strong enough to stand. I didn’t believe him, but he said, “Let’s try it.” He helped me up and then let go, and I stood free. It blew my mind away. I started crying like a baby. I was so overwhelmed, because I had no idea any of that was going to happen. I’ll never forget it. I went from having no idea I could stand to realizing that my aspirations and my hopes and dreams could be fulfilled. Everyone has been saying from the beginning, “You gotta get there.” He showed me I’m there.

Marshall Garber's Colorado ski tripThat ski trip had such an amazing impact on me. It took a couple of days to figure out how to ski, but once I had it down, it was like riding a bike. It was the fastest and farthest I’ve gone without wheels in as long as I can remember. The freedom was just incredible, and the scenery was so beautiful. The speed of going down the mountain and the adrenaline from knowing I was skiing... it was one of the best experiences of my life. My core muscles were pushed in ways that they hadn’t been before. It felt so good to be able to conquer that mountain. I was just so overwhelmed with how awesome that place was—it’s hard to put into words. I really fell in love with Colorado.

Since the ski trip, I’ve been able to work at a level much greater. I can feel and move my legs, and just recently, I’ve gained the ability to do some walking. If I hadn’t gone on the trip, I don’t think I would know right now that I could stand or walk.

I’m not sure what the future will hold, because there are so many options. For the time being, I want to focus on therapy, so I can get back on my feet. I want to study photography in college, hopefully in Colorado. I don’t know where I’m going to end up, but I know I’m going to be moving forward.

“I went from having no idea I could stand to realizing that my aspirations and my hopes and dreams could be fulfilled.”