Eight months after a ski accident left him with a life-changing spinal cord injury, Newcastle Tik Tok sensation Jimmy Jan was back in the ocean on Tuesday, catching waves at Nobbys Beach with pro surfer Julian Wilson and two-time world para-surf champion Sam Bloom.
The 21-year-old University of Newcastle medical student, who relies on a wheelchair for mobility, says the opportunity to get back on a surfboard under the watchful gaze of two surfing legends, was awesome.
The union is thanks to a mutual admiration of Wings for Life, a not-for-profit charity the Novocastrian trio are keen to promote.
“It was so awesome to go surfing with Julian Wilson and Sam Bloom,” Jimmy told the Newcastle Weekly.
“[They] are both such legends.
“This was the first proper surf I’ve had since my accident and it was so good to be back in the ocean, on a board.
“It was a mission getting out, but so worth it.
“Sitting in the pocket of the wave was the closest I’ve felt to my pre-Injury life.
“It’s such a privilege to enjoy the ocean, and I will never take it for granted.”
Jimmy had been an avid surfer, runner, skier and snowboarder, before he lost the use of his legs in an accident on the slopes of Perisher in August 2021.
In what he describes on his TikTok account as an “oopsie” moment, Jimmy chose to ski rather than snowboard, attempted a jump, landed badly, broke his back and suffered a spinal cord injury.
While in rehab, Jimmy started posting videos of why he was in a wheelchair and his TikTok’s went viral, watched by millions of people around the world.
In fact the cheeky jokester now has more than 591,000 followers.
Since his accident and after months of rehab, Jimmy longed to surf again.
Having previously met Sam Bloom, Pro surfer Julian Wilson offered to take Jimmy in the ocean again, after the pair had connected over Jimmy’s story and Julian’s wish to support Wings for Life World Run.
The Wings for Life World Run is an annual running competition held on the first weekend of May.
The run is held simultaneously across the globe, collecting funds for the not-for-profit foundation Wings for Life, whose goal is to find a cure for spinal cord injury.
The motto of the race is ‘Running for those who can’t’.
“With awesome causes like Wings for Life supporting spinal cord injury research, I look forward to being able to stand up on a wave again one day,” Jimmy says.
“Surfing for people with a spinal cord injury is not as simple.
“Therefore we had the help of Sebastian, from Access Adventures – a registered charity that delivers life-changing adaptive sports and activities.”
Jimmy also expressed his gratitude to the Cooks Hill Surf Life Saving Club for the use of their beach equipped wheelchair.