I thought I would share with you the answers to questions from students at Deep Run High School:
What would you say inspired you the most to come back from your injury and become so successful?
I was blessed with an abundance of support from my friends and family members. I was fortunate to have the best of medical care. Everything that I needed was in place to allow me to be successful. It just took determination from deep within me. I must say it was hard in the beginning to find that determination. I didn’t want to live as a paralyzed person. I wanted to give up, but my family wouldn’t let me consider it.
I was also very fortunate to marry a positive, supportive person who was my physical therapist in rehab. My parents call her an angel. I agree and when you’re living with an angel, you can’t help but stay positive and motivated.
How would you describe yourself before the accident?
Before my accident, I was probably the luckiest person on earth. I had athletic ability, personality, physical strength and attractiveness (I’m told by the girls). I had an abundance of friends — young and old. I was always the first one to be invited to a party or picked for a team. I guess you could say I lived a charmed life. I had it all and didn’t realize it.
Did you ever think you would attend graduate school before you were injured? Did you have any real future plans?
I doubt that graduate school would have been even the slightest consideration before my accident. I was too busy living life to the fullest. School, I’m ashamed to say, was at the bottom of my list of priorities. I didn’t really plan anything. I just lived in the moment.
What do you think was the hardest change you had to face afterwards?
Losing my physical abilities which equated to the things I loved most — losing the ability to play basketball, baseball, golf, tennis, swimming, dancing, surfing, and skiing was probably the hardest of all. I did it all and I was good at all of it. I went from being the luckiest person on earth to being the one that everyone looked at and felt sorry for. Who I used to be was so tied up in the physical, that in all reality, I died in the accident. That Chris Skinner exists no more … and I still grieve that loss even today. I would love to hold a baseball bat in my hands and feel the impact of the ball as I swing. Everyone called me “Outer Banks” in high school. I’d like to ride a wave again.
What affect do you want your book/speeches to have on people?
My whole goal in traveling and speaking is to encourage you to make better decisions, especially those involving alcohol and drugs. Every decision you make can and will have a lasting impact on your life. That may sound frightening, but in reality it is empowering. It just means that you have control over your life. You can make it better … or you can make it worse. The choice is yours.
Do you ever get nervous during your speeches? Why or why not?
I never get nervous. I’m just telling my story. I have always loved people and I have never met a stranger. I take my job very seriously. It isn’t easy for me to travel and I don’t feel very well most of the time. But every student in every school is the most important person in the world to me. I do it for that one person who will listen and change what they are doing. I answer all my own emails personally.
What is your ultimate life goal?
I will soon reach one major goal. I will graduate this May (6th) with my master’s degree in counseling. I am currently working with small groups as a counselor in an alcohol and drug treatment center. I hope to continue that work in addition to traveling and speaking at high schools, colleges and universities. I want to be able to leave this world a better place because I was here. I want to make a difference in the lives of others. I want my life to count.
God Bless! Chris