In 1999, Nick Springer at fourteen went to camp and his life was changed forever. He contacted Meningococcal meningitis a disease that infects about 2,500 Americans each year. 250 to 375 will die and up to 475 more will suffer lifelong effects like hearing loss, brain damage, kidney failure and amputations. Meningitis symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, stiff neck, confusion, nausea, vomiting and exhaustion. The infection progress is quick, often happening within hours of the first symptoms. Meningitis can attack the membranes surrounding the brain. In Nick’s case, it poisoned his blood, requiring amputations to prevent the spreading of gangrene. Nick after 17 surgeries lost all his limbs. His father press agent Gary Springer and his wife Nancy immediately stated, ‘this is our new normal.” They were just happy their son was alive.
Nick, at the time was on his jr. varsity hockey team. His dream since he was five was to play for the New York Rangers, win a Stanley Cup and play for the NHL. Instead Nick joined the U.S. wheelchair rugby program in 2005, earning a spot on its first-place world championship teams in 2006, 2010 and 2016. He also won a gold medal in the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. Tragically, Nicks mother Nancy died of liver cancer the day after he won the gold medal. Gary Springer stated “I was standing there in China, and I was watching him, and I was so hoarse when they put the medal on him. I was so proud. It was one of the greatest moments. I was also thinking that the games are over, and now I have to tell him that we have to leave in the morning because his mother is in a coma.”
Nick went on to win a bronze medal in the 2012 Paralympics in London. He is a three time national champion who now plays rugby for the Phoenix Heat.
Eighteen years later aside from his training, Nick has become a spokesman for meningitis awareness and prevention. He talks to parents and doctors about the importance of vaccinations. He also helps survivors develop and embrace their new lifestyles.
The National Meningitis Association can be reached at (866)366-3662 or www.nmaus.org.
T2C was lucky enough to spend time with Nick. This video is one of a three part series in hopes of showing what the human spirit is capable of. Stay tune for part 2.