On Jan. 22, 2000, motocross rider Jimmy Button was preparing to win the San Diego round of the AMA Supercross Championship Series. One small accident would change his life forever.
This remarkable story begins at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego on the day when everything went numb for Jimmy Button. “My accident wasn’t this huge, catastrophic, ugly-looking crash; it was really simple,” Button says. “I came around a turn, literally going four or five miles an hour, and just hit a hole wrong. I tipped over the front of the bike and hit the ground wrong.”
Landing head first on hard dirt, Button immediately lost all feeling from his neck down and had trouble breathing. Unable to move, he remained calm while telling paramedics what had happened. “I told them just to be super careful, because I didn’t lose consciousness and I thought I broke my neck,” he recalls. “Fortunately they got me turned over and carefully got me into the ambulance the proper way.”
Once hospitalized, Button and his family received heartbreaking news from the doctors. He was paralyzed from the neck down, with no chance of recovery. Button would use these words as motivation to defy all odds by regaining total mobility.
“Being as young as I was [26 at the time], I was pretty naïve and never believed it,” Button says. “I still have all my doctor’s notes, and on the very first page it states, 'give family zero hope for recovery.' I’d use this as motivation and would battle really hard every day. All the little milestones of recovery that were happening along the way, I’d use them to motivate me.”
A few months after the accident and his initial diagnosis, a tiny miracle occurred on the tip of Button’s finger. “For some reason one of my fingers started to work,” he recalls. “I thought since my finger is below my injury and the signal is getting there, shouldn’t it be able to get everywhere in my body? That was the beginning of my journey to recovery.”
Button's long and stressful journey, to be covered in Part 2 of this series, eventually led him to race across the United States for charity.
This Sunday, Feb. 20, at 11:15 a.m. [PST], Button will start his race across America, dubbed "Miles for Miracles." He’ll start at the site of his accident—Qualcomm Stadium—and ride approximately 2,428 miles to Daytona Beach, Fla. His two-month race is designed to raise awareness and money for spinal cord research.
More information on Jimmy Button’s Miles for Miracles charity race can be found at milesformiraclestoday.com.
In the video below, Button discusses his accident and initial reaction. Check back next week for the second part of his extraordinary story.