Kamil Vašíček: The kind of prevention that makes sense
At elementary school, Kamil played floorball, did athletics and regularly participated in skiing competitions. His fondness for skiing stuck with him throughout his studies at the Secondary Industrial School in Jedovnice, a trade school where he specialized in mechanical engineering, particularly computational systems and CNC machine programming. “I finished school and graduated. I had three months off ahead of me as I got admitted to the Brno University of Technology, and school was supposed to start sometime in September,” says Kamil about his life as a student.
They made an exception and I got to stay longer
Alas, Kamil did not get to enjoy the carefree summer holidays in full. In late August 2004, he got seriously injured riding an off-road motorbike. “I was supposed to be enjoying one more month of holidays, but instead I spent three months in an anaesthetics and intensive care unit because of respiratory problems and pneumonia. The next three months were spent in a spinal injuries unit,” he explains. Once his condition had stabilized, Kamil went to the Hamza rehabilitation center in Luže-Košumberk where he would stay for ten long months, coming to grips with his new life as a quadriplegic. “You are typically entitled to six months of treatment, but they made an exception and let me stay longer. In the latter half of my stay, I could go and visit my parents once a month,” Kamil continues.
We realized that mine was not a passing condition
During Kamil’s visits to his parents in Blansko, it became clear that the house would need some accommodating to adjust to the new situation. “We realized my condition was not going to pass so we began remodeling the bathroom. Luckily, we didn’t have to make big modifications – we all just moved to the ground floor where my grandparents used to live.” In the end, the house underwent all the necessary modifications while Kamil was still staying at the rehabilitation center.
I was never the diligent type of student
Kamil spent the first two years after rehabilitation mostly at home. “I was fortunate in that my mom decided to stay home with me and help me,” he adds. It took a while to get hold of all the needed compensatory aids. As soon as he could use special assistive control devices and a computer, he started working on an occasional basis. He never returned to university where he had interrupted his studies for two years. “I was never the diligent student type. Plus, it is all about mathematics and calculations at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, and my heart wasn’t in it. I figured I would look for a part-time job.” Nowadays, Kamil’s skills pay dividends as he composes technical drawings for a Brno-based company.
And I have been in the first league ever since
Kamil first learned about boccia (bocce) which is currently his greatest passion during a visit to the Paraple Center in Prague. A few years had passed before he decided to take it up seriously in 2009. “First I used to practice once a week at the Kociánka Center. Then I discovered ParaCENTER Fenix and started coming to Brno three times a week to both practice boccia and exercise.” Kamil also attended rehabilitation in his hometown, which he later limited to one session per week. “The ladies at ParaCENTER Fenix are simply better at stretching me. I eventually decided that exercising in Blansko wasn’t cutting it for me, so I dropped out and committed to Brno,” he adds. Kamil’s successes in boccia came one after another rapidly. “In my first year, I was in the third league. The year after that, I advanced to the second and, finally, in 2011 I entered the first league in which I have been competing ever since, winning 5 national championship titles,” says Kamil, recounting his sports career. It did not stop there, however. Since 2013, he has been on the Czech national team, regularly participating in international tournaments. Kamil also qualified for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro from a fantastic ninth position in the world rankings.
To Kamil, ParaCENTER Fenix is more than just a place where he comes to exercise. “I attended various lectures and social events – contact with other clients helped me a lot in gaining new information and experiences. The recuperative stay in Březejec in the summer is also fantastic for relaxation and spending some time in nature.” Among other things, ParaCENTER Fenix tries to support Kamil in his sports career. “When we ran a crowdfunding campaign for boccia tournaments, the people at Fenix were really helpful,” he adds. Kamil is also actively involved in Fenix’s awareness-raising, preventive lectures at elementary schools. “I always like to take part whenever a school is barrier-free and accessible to me. It’s for the schoolchildren to see a quadriplegic and get a sense of what life can bring. I believe that is the kind of prevention that makes sense,” he concludes.