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An accident paralyzed him, but it didn't take his sense of adventure

An accident paralyzed him. But it didn't take his sense of adventure.
Posted at 9:03 AM, Aug 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-22 11:03:51-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — From the beginning, Will Biringer has always been on the go. The Midlothian, Virginia, native prefers tagging along with Mother Nature.

"Everything I did as an outlet was outdoors, longboarding, fishing and hunting," said Biringer. "I feel like a shark in water if I like get stagnant and don't move."

Will joined the JROTC at James River High School. Following graduation, he joined the military.

"So I enlisted in the Navy September 9, 2018," said Will.

Three years in, the future corpsman found himself on the receiving end of help.

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On July 4, 2021, the 23-year-old's life changed in an instant while stationed in Illinois. Biringer fell off a friend's balcony three stories up.

"I hit my head. Broke four ribs. Punctured a lung and shattered two vertebrae," said Biringer.

Biringer's life hung in the balance.

"I did. I died twice," said Biringer. "I think it was once on the ground I died and once in the back of the rig. And they brought me back."

The sailor was alive, but he was paralyzed from the waist down.

"That is what really did me in. You know it wasn't pretty. It doesn't take a trained eye to see what went wrong there," said Biringer as he examined X-rays of his injury.

He spent days in the hospital and months in rehab.

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"They kind of kept me moving and kept me moving, so I never had a chance to think about it. Which I think is good," Biringer said.

Back in Chesterfield, adjusting to his new normal has been a physical and mental adjustment.

"I think it comes in waves like a lot of grief can do," described Biringer. "You just kind of deal with it day by day."

One activity he misses most is dancing.

"Me and my friend Maggie would country two-step all of the time. I was laying in bed that night, and I was like, dang. I'm not ever going to be able to do that again," said Biringer.

But he is discovering an entirely new way to keep moving on wheels.

"It is a good way to get out and do stuff, and it's competitive. It kind of like it pushes you," said Biringer.

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Biringer discovered Sportable, a nonprofit that makes sports accessible for athletes like him.

Will's sport of choice is lacrosse.

The physical sport keeps Biringer's competitive juices flowing. Biringer has found a home and like-minded friends like Addison Johnson on his team.

"He is funny. He jokes a lot. I definitely enjoy playing with him," said Johnson. "He already has stick skills from being in the chair; he has chair skills, so he makes a great teammate."

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Coach Nicholas Whiteside admires Biringer's ability to overcome his disability.

"He wants to be stronger. He wants to get better. He wants to get faster. Each week, he has," said Whiteside. "But yeah, you would not know he's adapted so well. He tries so hard. And he works so hard at it. It is pretty amazing."

"It is nice to have all of these guys around you. I'm still learning tips of the trade," said Biringer.

The outlet is proving to be a lifesaver for this new lacrosse player.

"I feel like I've come a little bit. Not a lot but a little bit," said Biringer. "It gets easier. It gets way easier."

He may be getting from point A to B a little differently, but Biringer is thankful that he is able to keep moving through life.

"I wouldn't be where I am without a sport," said Biringer. "With Sportable TGIM every day. It is beautiful."

In addition to playing lacrosse with Sportable, Biringer also trains at Samaritans Walk, a gym in Ashland, Virginia, that trains clients with spinal cord injuries.

This article was written by Greg McQuade for WTVR.