Paralyzed CrossFit athlete Kevin Ogar learning to walk again

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A local CrossFit competitor was nearly killed exactly one year ago Sunday during a weightlifting competition in California. Now his story of hope is helping Coloradans redefine what they consider strong.

There is video of his accident. We spoke to Kevin Ogar about showing it to you. He just asked that we warn you that it is difficult to watch. But he agrees: It shows the gravity of the situation that he survived.

Ogar was left paralyzed from the waist down after the freak accident, with doctors confirming just how uncanny the incident was.

"To have an injury like this that really damages, and potentially severs the spinal cord, it's really rare," Ogar's therapist said.

Now Ogar is taking the "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" mantra to a whole new level, vowing to continue to weight lift in competitions, something he has done since he was 5 years old.

"I don’t think I will stop til I’m dead," he said.

It turns out, his strength from years of training, weight lifting, and CrossFit helped him survived the accident.

"I credit a lot of stuff I am doing now, one year after the accident with the fact that I was in such good shape going into my accident," Ogar said.

Ogar said he was scared when he first got hurt, but he was determined to get better and stronger. That meant getting back to the gym as quickly as possible.

"I’m pretty sure I said I was coming back to CrossFit the day after I was hurt," Ogar said. "Again, I don’t remember a lot of things that first seven days, but I’m pretty sure it’s something I said.”

He was back at his buddy’s gym “Unbroken” in Englewood, Colo., within three weeks of coming to Craig Hospital. Ogar has worked tirelessly with the therapists at Craig, taking one step at a time, learning how to walk with leg braces and doing things like getting up from the ground in the case of a fall.

"That is an extremely difficult task," his therapist said. "And Kevin makes it look easy.”

The support he has received from around the world has been overwhelming. He wears pink braces and uses a pink walker in honor of a charity called “Barbells for Boobs” that raises money for breast cancer. But they put their efforts on hold to raise money for him right after he was injured.

In spite of the odds, Ogar has remained hopeful.

"The doctors I still talk to now have never once told me there is absolutely no chance of ever getting  anything back," Ogar said. "They have said there’s a very very low percentage of ever getting anything back. I like low percentages -- gives you something to shoot for.”

And Ogar is now taking the next big step: learning to walk with the help of a new device called Indego. It helps him stand and walk. It triggers a step when his hips are in the right position.

"It is pretty close to what I thought it was going to be: pretty Robocop-esque," Ogar laughed. "I joked earlier that I’m going to have to put on spandex and fight crime.”

Of course, on his first day on these new legs, the competitor in him is already pushing the envelope.

"I asked them today if they could program it to squat, that’s one of the things I truly miss," Ogar said. "They said yes, maybe, quite possibility in the future.”

And with that kind of attitude, Ogar's future looks strong.

The CrossFit community raised more than $200,000 for Ogar within 24 hours of his accident and $300,000 during the first week.

RELATED: Donate to Ogar's road to recovery

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