CURE NATION: Sean Ladner is a C-6/7 quadriplegic living in Las Vegas, NV. When he’s not running his own business, he stars on the Las Vegas High Rollers quad rugby team.
A longtime Vegas native, Sean shares his journey below through spinal cord injury, pain pill addiction and recovery thanks to a core group of friends that he discovered through adaptive sports. We invite you to get involved too with the High Rollers Adaptive Sports Foundation, a Las Vegas nonprofit that puts on adaptive sports programs for people across the Vegas valley.
VIDEO: NBC’s AMBER DIXON SPOTLIGHTS THE LAS VEGAS HIGH ROLLERS
Sean Ladner’s Life Changed During a Fateful Road Trip
In 1991, Sean and some buddies planned to go to Parker, AZ, to a bar called Sundance over the weekend. They took the bus specifically because they knew they’d be drinking and didn’t want anyone to have to drive home drunk. When the party was over and they went to the bus stop, they found out the next scheduled pick up would be two hours later.
In hindsight they should’ve waited, but just then Sean recognized a guy he knew named Mike and asked if he was going back to Havasu. He was so they all piled in the car.
As it turns out, Mike had been drinking too, and just a mile from home, he wrecked. “Back then there were just lap belts in this little car Mike was driving,” Sean recounts. “We rolled several times. Mike was killed in the wreck. I broke my neck and the other two guys walked away.”
“They had to use the jaws of life to get me out,” he continues, “and they flew me to Good Samaritan hospital in Phoenix. I was so drugged up that it took me a month to figure out how bad it was. I thought I’d be back at work in a week.”
SEAN PIECES HIS LIFE BACK TOGETHER after SCI
“When I got home from rehab, I didn’t waste any time learning how to live,” he boasts. “First of all, they wanted to send me home in a power chair, but I refused. I couldn’t even push myself yet in a manual yet but I told ‘em I’d figure it out. That was my first good decision,” Sean explains.
“Next, my girlfriend started taking me over to the Titan gym in Lake Havasu. I was a high school dropout, so a lady I knew said she’d help me get my G.E.D. She worked at a community college two blocks away from the gym so I’d push over there to study after working out. Another great decision,” he continues.
“I tried to stay as active as I could,” Sean claims. “I got a $10,000 settlement from the wreck so I bought a Camaro because it had the big doors, the kind that made it easier to transfer into the driver’s seat from a chair. I ordered hand controls and when they came in my buddy who’s a para installed them for me. I was up and driving that same day!”
“In Arizona, your driver’s license is good for 40 years so I didn’t have to retake the tests. It took me three days to figure out how to get my chair in and out but I did it.”
“Anyway, I got my G.E.D. and applied to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff,” Sean adds. “I got accepted, earned a degree in business and couldn’t get a job so I went back and got another one, a paralegal degree. Now I own my own mobile mechanic business. That all makes perfect sense, right?”
FINDING A PURPOSE IN SPORTS AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME
After college, Sean moved to Phoenix for a bit and then back to Las Vegas in 2002. “I was actually working out at 24 Hour Fitness when I met a quad named TJ, who was jacked by the way.” he says.
“He didn’t look like a quad, but he was. He told me he played for the Las Vegas High Rollers, a wheelchair rugby team, and proceeded to invite me to come try it out at one of their practices sometime. The very next day, I jumped into a rugby chair for the first time and I really liked it.”
“The guys on the team asked me to come to a tournament they were going to be in the following weekend and I did that too, and the rest is history. I was hooked.”
“The High Rollers foundation is a nonprofit made up of athletes and volunteers who believe that engaging in sports is the best path to independence and a sense of normalcy after enduring life-altering injuries or lifelong disabilities,” says foundation president Bradley Boe.
“In the beginning, we really sucked!” Sean affirms. “In those first years, we barely had enough guys to make a team, and we were getting crushed by those big city teams on the west coast, but that didn’t matter. We had fun.”
“Soon though, we got a new coach named Brad Orham,” he continues. “Brad’s nephew Brandon used a chair and he pushed us harder than anyone had before. He whipped us into shape, and in 2008 we won the National Championships in Utah by one point!”
VIDEO: WATCH THE HARD HITTING ACTION OF THE LAS VEGAS HIGH ROLLERS
RUGBY GETS SEAN BACK IN THE GAME AFTER BLADDER AUGMENTATION SURGERY
“In 2010, I had surgery to augment my bladder. This was one of the worse decisions of my life mainly because my doctor was awful,” Sean admits. “He was very cavalier about the procedure and told me I’d be up and around in a few days, no problem. I should’ve known better but I was desperate and I agreed to it.”
“Well, there was a problem. I got an infection and was in the hospital for a lot longer than a ‘few days.’ It ended up almost killing me,” Sean explains.
“The doctor put me on all kinds of drugs for pain and I got hooked on pain meds for seven years. I quit playing rugby and was basically a vegetable every day. The rugby team disbanded.”
“Two years ago, fortunately, we started it back up,” Sean reports. “The city started funding us and our nonprofit leader Bradley Boe did some fundraising for us too.”
“It’s expensive to operate a rugby team because of all the equipment and travel. Back in our heyday, we were going to 4-5 tournaments a month. Now, we’re lucky if we go to four in a year. But we’ll start doing more though as it cools down here and we get more funding behind us,” he shares.
“Rugby can be an important part of life, especially for those newly injured. I know it was for me. I’d never hung around other quads before and thanks to my team involvement, I learned a lot about how they did things. Now it’s my turn to help recruit and mentor younger players. It’s my turn to give back,” Sean adds.
During the 2018 season, the team completed a highly successful first season. With the support of their families and community, the High Rollers Foundation sent eight rugby players to Dallas where they became tournament champions, to Houston where they took second, and to Phoenix where they attended a clinic taught by Paralympic gold medalist Scott Hogsett (who also starred in the movie, Murderball.)
“We’re always looking for new players,” Sean confesses with a laugh. “I stop every quad I see on the street and ask them to come to one of our practices. When we go visit people in the rehab hospital, we always bring a rugby chair and try to get them in it.”
“We tell them, ‘Just try it. Get in it and run into something.’ There aren’t too many outlets to be competitive post- injury and this is one of them. Some guys need that in their lives. I know how much it helped me get back on track and I want to share that with other people who might need the same thing,” he says.
SEAN LADNER CHOOSES A CURE CATHETER
“I started using Cure catheters back in 2005,” Sean relays. “Before that I was using condom catheters, but I started getting infections because my bladder wasn’t emptying fully.”
“After evaluating a bunch of different catheters, I chose the Cure straight catheter in 14FR because it worked the best for me. I prefer the non-lubed ones because they’re easier for me to handle due to my hand dexterity as a quad. That was before my surgery.”“In 2010, after my bladder augmentation procedure, I switched to the 18FR Cure Catheter to help it drain better since I have a little mucous every time I cath now. Cure catheters don’t ever kink up and have a good flow, and I get fewer urinary tract infections now that I’m using them,” he adds.
To request free samples of the Cure Catheter® that Sean uses or any Cure Medical catheter, contact your local distributor of quality healthcare products, or click here.
About the High Rollers Adaptive Sports Foundation
Welcome! We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to building a supportive community for the disabled by promoting and expanding adaptive sports opportunities in Las Vegas, NV. The foundation acts as both the booster and club for Las Vegas High Rollers Wheelchair Rugby.
Through our backpack outreach program, we provide support and resources to help ease the transition for those who have sustained permanently disabling injuries. Our staff and board consist entirely of volunteers, meaning that 100% of donations go to support adaptive athletes and newly injured patients. Join us at https://high-rollers-foundation.org/.About Cure Medical
Founded by a quadriplegic, Cure Medical is the only catheter manufacturer in the world that donates10% of net income to support research programs in pursuit of a cure for urinary retention, paralysis, spinal cord injury and central nervous system disorders.
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