Athlete Janine Shepherd was rendered a partial paraplegic when she was hit by a truck during an Olympic training bike ride. Doctors didn't expect her to recover. But she not only learned to walk again — she learned to fly.

Why you should listen

Janine Shepherd is a walking paraplegic; she is also a pilot and aerobatics instructor, as well as a motivational speaker and author.

A champion cross-country skier in training for the winter Olympics, Janine’s life changed forever when she was hit by a truck during a bicycle ride in the Blue Mountains of Australia. Doctors did not expect her to survive and, when she did, they warned her that she would never walk again.

Janine focused intently for years on healing both her broken body and crushed morale. A turning point came watching small planes flying overhead. She decided: “If I can’t walk, I’ll fly.” While still in a full body cast, Janine was lifted into an aircraft for her first flight. Within a year she had her private pilot’s license. Later, she earned her commercial pilots license and instructor’s rating. Janine recently served on the board of Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and became its youngest -- and only -- female director.

Janine is a the patron of the Australasian Spinal Research Trust and is committed to helping find a cure for spinal cord injury in the near future. In the meantime, she seeks to inspire those coping with physical disability. She is the author of five books, including The Gift of Acceptance and Never Tell Me Never. And while doctors told her after her accident that she would never have children, she now is a mother of three.

 

What others say

"Janine is a brilliant story teller who uses her wit, charm, humor, and impeccable timing to engage the audience. She shares her journey in an expansive, inspiring, and universal way that touches every heart in the room and invites each of us to dream…to reach…to grow beyond our preconceived limits." — Davidji, Dean of the Chopra Center University

Janine Shepherd’s TED talks

Janine Shepherd on the TED Blog

Health

7 powerful stories of recovery after injury

November 28, 2012

Cross-country skier Janine Shepherd was Olympics-bound in 1986, with many thinking that she was a strong contender to earn Australia’s first-ever medal at the winter games. But everything changed on a training bike ride through the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Shepherd was hit by a truck, and broke both her back and neck. Doctors did […]

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Quotes from Janine Shepherd

It [doesn't matter] what you look like, where you come from, or what you do for a living. All that matters is that we continue to fan the flame of humanity by living our lives as the ultimate creative expression of who we really are.
Janine Shepherd
TEDxKC • 949K views Nov 2012
Inspiring, Courageous