Matthew Tilford grew up in Modesto, California. As a child, Matthew led an active life, was surrounded by loving family, and was a bit of a class clown. He often pursued outdoor sports, and, being a bit of a risk taker had plans to pursue a degree in motorcycle mechanics after graduating high school.
However, life was about to turn upside down for Matt. Just two weeks before high school graduation, Matthew was driving a group of friends to a campsite when he took a corner too quickly. The truck plummeted off of a 600-foot cliff and Matthew was ejected from the vehicle and suffered a variety of traumatic injuries, including a fractured spinal cord which paralyzed him from the waist down. His friends miraculously survived without serious injury.
Matt spent a month in a coma and coded twice, and after several months of rehab was faced with the reality of living the rest of his life without feeling or function of his legs. Being such a previously active person, Matt and his family were devastated but grateful he had survived.
Determined to make the best of his situation, Matt began to meet mentors and other survivors with similar injuries and soon began exploring different, new ways of living an active lifestyle and began forming connections and friendships in the disability community.
Through this network, Matt built an entirely new identity and career in the disability world and continues to learn every day new life hacks for daily living with a wheelchair. He’s recently become the leader of the United Spinal Association - San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, is an active ambassador for Ekso Bionics exoskeleton technology, regularly mentors other members of the community and works in sales for Apple West Home Medical Supply.
Matt has many amazing plans for his future. Follow along to see what he’s doing next.