The blink of an eye, a heartbeat, a split second in time.

That’s all it took for Sam Bloom’s life to change forever.

Sam had everything she had always dreamed of. She’d travelled extensively, fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a nurse and was a happily married mother of three young boys.

Without warning, the dream turned into a nightmare when on a 2013 family holiday in Thailand, Sam fell through a rotten balcony railing and crashed six metres onto the concrete below.

Lucky to be alive, she’d suffered devastating injuries, including severe damage to her spinal cord that left her paralysed from the chest down.

Broken and hopeless, Sam reached her outer limits of physical and mental suffering. But with courage, determination and a little help from an unlikely feathered friend, her remarkable recovery is testament to the inner strength that each of us can find when faced with adversity.

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An unlikely saviour

Once her condition was stable enough, Sam returned to Australia and braved her way through months of intensive rehabilitation. She craved a return to normal life, and was finally able to come home, only to fall into a deep and consuming depression.

Mourning the loss of her old life and no longer able to see purpose in her new one, she slipped further into hopelessness as her family watched on, helpless despite their best efforts. 

A frail, injured little magpie chick became Sam’s unexpected saviour. 

The ongoing journey to recovery

Penguin, as the boys named her, became Sam’s constant companion and over time she brought life and laughter back into the house where sadness had reigned. 

From this, Sam found a renewed sense of purpose in taking up competitive paracanoeing, placing 13th in the world and winning two Australian titles before representing her country at the 2015 World Championships in Italy.

Today, Sam has reconnected with her love for the ocean and made a return to surfing. In August 2018, Sam was selected as a member of the Australian Adaptive Surf Team and has since won Gold for Australia at both the 2018, 2020 and 2023 World Para Surfing Championships.

The story that’s captured hearts around the world

Sam’s husband Cameron, a professional photographer, documented their experience with his images forming the basis for the international bestselling book Penguin Bloom, a collaboration with New York Times bestselling author Bradley Trevor Greive.

The story has now been transformed into a major film produced by Naomi Watts, with Watts also set to star as Sam.

A second book, Sam Bloom: Heartache & Birdsong shares Sam’s personal perspective on facing and overcoming adversity.

Read Sam's story in her own words Full story

Penguin Bloom

The story that’s captured hearts and minds across Australia and around the world.


Book Sam for your next event. Her inspiring, visual storytelling experiences are like no other.


Sam’s bestselling new book Sam Bloom: Heartache & Birdsong is now available