A mother of three who broke her back after falling six meters off a balcony while on a family holiday in Thailand has since become a two-time world champion and Australian parasurf champion.
Sam Bloom was 41 years old when she fell through a rotten balcony railing while on a family vacation in Thailand in 2013.
Ms Bloom plunged six feet onto the concrete below as her husband Cameron and children Rueben, 16, Noah, 14, Oli, 12, watched in horror.
Her husband rushed to help, only to find her lying unconscious with her head split open. She had also bitten her tongue and there was a huge bump on her back.
Sam Bloom (pictured) was 41 years old when she fell through a rotten balcony during a family vacation in Thailand in 2013
The mother of three (pictured) fractured her skull in several places, bruised her brain, bit through her tongue, ruptured both lungs and crushed two vertebrae in her spine, paralyzing her from the chest down
Ms. Bloom suffered extensive injuries, including a fractured skull, bruising and bleeding in her brain, rupturing both lungs and tearing her tongue.
Her spine was also crushed at the T6 and T7 vertebrae, causing a fist-shaped bony knot to protrude from her back.
After waiting four hours for an ambulance, Ms. Bloom was taken to a local hospital where doctors began stitching up her head wound.
Doctors quickly realized the severity of her injuries and rushed her to a private hospital for three hours, where she spent three days until her condition stabilized.
After six months of surgery and rehabilitation, Ms. Bloom was paralyzed from the chest down, never to walk again.
“Before my accident, I was super active. I grew up near the beaches so I always surfed and felt very comfortable in the ocean,” Ms Bloom told Nine Honey.
“After my accident in 2013 where I broke my back… I have no control. All I’ve got is my arms, so I’m pretty uncomfortable in the ocean right now because I’m not in control.”
Ms Bloom spent a week in a hospital in Bangkok before returning to Australia where she began a seven-month hospital rehabilitation.
In a Facebook post marking the 10th anniversary of the accident, Ms Bloom sometimes wrote that she believes the best version of herself died on the concrete.
However, she never imagined that ten years later she would become a two-time world champion and Australian champion in parasurfing at the national and international level.
After seven months of rehabilitation in a hospital, Ms. Bloom decided to take up kayaking (pictured)
With the help of family, friends and a modified surfboard, Ms. Bloom is now a two-time champion para-surfer (pictured)
Ms Bloom was selected to captain the Australian team at the 2022 ISA World Para Surfing Championship (pictured)
Sam Bloom and husband Cameron after winning gold at the 2020 World Para Surfing Championship in San Diego (pictured)
She thanked a staff member at her rehabilitation center for recognizing her past passion for sports and urging her to try different types of track and field.
Initially, the staff member encouraged her to try wheelchair basketball, but Ms. Bloom suggested kayaking instead.
She started paddling when she got out of rehab because she loved being on the water and out of her wheelchair.
The sport brought solitude and independence to Mrs. Bloom and in 2015 she was selected to be part of the Australian ParaCanoe team for the World Championships in Milan.
Five years later, Mrs. Bloom decided to give para-surfing a try, despite her fear of not being able to dive under waves or run onto the beach if there’s a big shore dump.
Ms. Bloom overcame her fears with the help of her family, friends and a modified surfboard with handles that allow her to operate the board with her arms.
“It’s great, but it’s also frustrating because I would do anything to be able to run down the beach on my own with my board. But I can’t do that anymore,” said Ms. Bloom.
“Everyone has a different story and everyone has overcome huge challenges to get back into the ocean. When you talk to other people who have suffered similar injuries, we just get it.
“We just understand how hard it can be and how hard it is mentally to deal with your new life. But when you have a goal and a goal and something to strive for, that changes everything.”
In August 2018 Ms. Bloom was selected as a member of the Australian Adaptive Surf Team and won gold for Australia at both the 2019 and 2020 World Parasurfing Championships.
Mrs Bloom (pictured with her son Ruben) also features on limited edition Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars representing the word ‘courage’ for the Cadbury ‘A Cheer & A Half’ campaign
Ms Bloom pictured with her husband Cameron (left) and their three sons Noah, Rueben and Oli
She was announced in November as captain of the Australian team at the 2022 ISA World Para Surfing Championship, reaching the final after finishing fourth in the Prone Non Assist competition.
Ms. Bloom also features, along with other sporting icons, on limited edition Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars representing the word ‘courage’ in the ‘A Cheer & A Half’ campaign.
It’s hard for Ms. Bloom to stand on the sand with a disability, but her courage comes from being pushed out of her comfort zone and “trying” anyway.
She hopes the campaign will bring awareness, donations and volunteers to adaptive sports and inspire other Aussies with disabilities to take up sports.