Former U of A Pandas soccer player paralyzed in bike crash in Costa Rica is well on her road to recovery

Image of Nicole Palladino at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. Chris Chacon/Global News

A former University of Alberta Pandas soccer player is sharing her story of resilience after a life-changing accident while on a trip in Central America that left her paralyzed.

“I graduated in December from civil engineering, and to celebrate, my boyfriend and I decided to go on a small little beach vacation,” Nicole Palladino said.

“We rented some crappy beach bikes and biked up to the infinity pool, had a great day and then biked home.

“They weren’t the best bikes: they didn’t have the hand breaks, you had to break backwards if that makes sense. I lost control on a gravel road and fell off the cliff.”

Palladino’s boyfriend found her unconscious and called for help.

“I remember losing control and saying how do I stop this and then I don’t remember anything until the hospital,” she said.

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The 24-year-old spent more than 10-days in hospital in Costa Rica following spinal surgery. The crash left her paralyzed from the waist down.

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“Initially, I was definitely numb and shocked about the whole experience,” Palladino said.

She traveled back to Canada for more care and is now on the road to recovery.

“What I’m doing here is relearning the skills that I need to become independent again. The work the nurses and the physio and the occupational therapists do here are so important because they are giving back my independence,” Palladino said.

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She is also drawing inspiration from others in the paraplegic community.

“Being able to see the strength and resilience that these people have to live their lives to fullest gives me hope and motivation that I can do same as well,” Palladino said.

She has been so inspired that she has already started her hand at a new sport.

“I did manage to get into wheelchair basketball…it’s hard,” Palladino said.

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Palladino is scheduled to leave the hospital in April. She looks forward to starting work and living an active lifestyle.

A silent auction and concert will be held March 6th at 7 p.m. at Match Eatery & Public House to raise funds for Palladino’s ongoing recovery.

All proceeds from the event will go towards her Gofundme campaign.

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