LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — From elite athlete to paraplegic in a split second, Shelby Estocado had reached the pinnacle of her sport before it was all taken away from her last year in a horrible snowboarding accident.
But when some may have given up, she dug deep and worked even harder to get back to her sporty, competitive self, and now she hopes her story will inspire others.
"I’ve always had that mindset, like when I want something I go get it," said Estocado.
At her core, Estocado is an athlete and a competitor.
She was a baseball and softball standout at Bishop Gorman High School, then Tulane University, and eventually for team USA as a member of the baseball women's national team.
"To play for [team] USA, that was a dream of mine, to wear the red, white, and blue, play for your country, and travel," said Estocado.
But on February 23, 2020, Estocado's life changed.
On her last run of the day at Lee Canyon, she suffered a bad snowboarding accident resulting in a serious spinal cord injury and a broken sternum.
"I remember every single bit of it," she said. "Going off the jump, being in the air and landing on the ground, and realizing how severe my accident was."
"When I looked up I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I can’t feel my legs.' But, I wasn’t worried about that, I guess," said Estocado. "I literally could not breathe and talk and I was just focused on staying alive."
Paralyzed from the waist down, Estocado had lost the use of the legs that had carried her throughout her athletic career.
"When I got injured I heard about adaptive athletes in wheelchairs doing cross-fit and that was one thing I knew I could get back into," she said. "I was like, 'If they’re doing it I can do it,.'"
Nothing could keep her from competing again.
Two surgeries and five months of recovery and rehabilitation later, she was back at it playing sports like hockey, mountain biking, even skiing the slopes once again.
"It just makes me happy just to get back out there, to get dirty, to get hurt."
"Yes, I had a spinal cord injury, but I always would get those scrapes and those little sprains here and there," said Estocado. "So, I’m back at it and it just feels good."
Estocado says the keys to her recovery were her parents and the High Fives Foundation, a nonprofit providing resources and hope for people who suffer life-changing injuries.
"We want to get you through the recovery, but more importantly, we want to get you back out into sport," said Roy Tuscany, the CEO and founder of the High Fives Foundation.
"We all know that sport is a byproduct of community and when people can get re-introduced to sport, especially in an adaptive fashion, it not only gets them back and participating in a sport that they love, but it gets them reconnected with the community that they may feel lost from and disconnected at the time," Tuscany explained.
Lee Canyon is a proud partner of High Fives, sponsoring “Feel Good Fridays” throughout the month of March.
"It’s a win-win for everybody," said Lee Canyon's marketing director, Jim Seely. "$25 lift tickets on Fridays in March, with some of the proceeds going to the High Fives Foundation. So, everybody wins."
"Everyone comes up, has a great time and it’s for a great cause," Seely said.
By getting active after her injury, Estocado hopes to inspire other injured athletes to never give up.
"I want other athletes to know there’s a lot you can do," she said. "You can be set back and just think about it, but living in the moment and for what today has to offer, I’m just fully invested in that because, yeah I’m in a wheelchair, but that doesn’t hold me back from anything."
Friday is a big day for Estocado. She's heading back to Mt. Charleston for the first time since her injury to conquer Lee Canyon.
She says she'll probably be a little nervous when she gets off the ski lift and looks down the mountain, but she's excited about the opportunity and will have her family and friends by her side to support her the whole way.