Para-athlete Lenny Rudrose reveals how becoming an paraplegic helped him overcome ice addiction

For some paralysed patients, losing the ability to walk, raise a hand or wiggle their toes can be life-limiting, but for para-athlete Lenny Rudrose it was the best thing that ever happened to him.

Mr Rudrose spent most of his teenage and young adult years battling an ice addiction.

Each hit made him feel more like “rocket man”, with his addiction getting to the point where buying the substance was “more important” than paying for electricity.

“I was living in a house with no power. People say, ‘why wouldn‘t you just pay the bill and not do the drugs?’ If you don’t do the drug, especially ice, you don’t have energy. You just sleep,” Mr Rudrose told The Project.

“If I sleep, I don‘t have a job, I don’t have an income.”

After some time, Mr Rudrose’s father, a former veteran, motivated him to join the army in a bid to sober up and restore his life.

He said joining the military was one of the best decisions of his life, not only for sobriety but also because it helped boost his fitness.

However, an irritating pain in his back limited his time in the field, with Mr Rudrose forced to return home where he was “back on the crackpot”.

Due to the intensity of his back pain increasing upon coming home, Mr Rudrose sought medical treatment where he was advised to have a scan.

When the results returned, they were far from what he anticipated, with the scan showing a tumour on his spine.

Matters only got worse when he woke up from a surgery to remove the tumour, with Mr Rudrose having no feeling in his body from his chest down.

Three months after surgery, doctors officially diagnosed him as a paraplegic.

“Normally I would have gone home and done drugs,” Mr Rudrose said, however the diagnosis sparked a change in mindset.

“Doing drugs is not going to help me any more. That led to sport, that was the biggest part of my recovery, was finding sport.”

Unable to participate in just one sport, the para-athlete joined numerous activities including wheelchair basketball, football, swimming, cycling and even Spartan races.

His success took him all the way to the Netherlands, where he won two medals in Prince Harry’s Invictus Games.

Mr Rudrose is now working up a sweat in a new challenge called ZERO600 to raise awareness about veteran suicide.

“Six veterans suicide a month. It‘s a lot of people. Walk, yoga, kayak, push a wheelchair, walk a dog. It’s to raise money for veterans suicide,” he explained.

Ultimately, becoming a paraplegic gave Mr Rudrose a new lease on life, with the athlete trademarking himself as “the smiling cripple” to represent how he has turned his life around after losing his abilities.

“When I rang up the trademark people, they’re like ‘what is it?’. I say I‘m a cripple and I always smile. They said, ‘fair enough’, and gave me the tick,” he said.

“I have a disability, when I smile I’m super happy and I want people to see that people like us can be still be happy, be a part of society, there’s no difference.”

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