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Walking Papers: The Accident that Changed My Life, and the Business that Got Me Back on My Feet

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Walking Papers is the incredibly inspiring story of a young man who wouldn't give up. Francesco Clark was a twenty-four-year-old with a bright future when he went to Long Island for the weekend--but a nocturnal dive into the pool's shallow end changed everything, forever. Paralyzed from the neck down, Francesco was told by his doctors that he would never move from his bed Walking Papers is the incredibly inspiring story of a young man who wouldn't give up. Francesco Clark was a twenty-four-year-old with a bright future when he went to Long Island for the weekend--but a nocturnal dive into the pool's shallow end changed everything, forever. Paralyzed from the neck down, Francesco was told by his doctors that he would never move from his bed or even breathe without assistance. But Francesco fought back. Within days, he was breathing on his own. His father, a doctor himself, investigated every opportunity for experimental treatment, and Francesco used every resource available to speed his recovery. To avoid having his lungs painfully suctioned, he sang, loudly, for hours--and that was just the beginning. Francesco moved back home with his parents and began the long process toward recovery. Many doctors discourage patients with spinal cord injury from pursuing physical therapy beyond very basic movements, but Francesco embarked on a five-hour daily regimen, including the treadmill program that Christopher Reeve had made famous. Soon he astounded the medical establishment with his progress. Francesco's accident also left him unable to sweat out toxins, leaving his complexion poor. He and his father began to experiment, and the Clark's Botanicals skin-care line was born. Now CB products are sold worldwide in stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, and the company has won many major fashion awards and is enjoyed by a host of celebrities. The lessons Francesco learned about persistence from his recovery process, and the loving support of his amazing family, have both contributed to his incredible business success. Seven years after the accident, Francesco continues to improve and to surprise his doctors--for instance, he can now work on a computer. Walking Papers is the inspiring story of how, with individual determination and unconditional family support, Francesco Clark overcame extreme adversity and achieved an extraordinary triumph.


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Walking Papers is the incredibly inspiring story of a young man who wouldn't give up. Francesco Clark was a twenty-four-year-old with a bright future when he went to Long Island for the weekend--but a nocturnal dive into the pool's shallow end changed everything, forever. Paralyzed from the neck down, Francesco was told by his doctors that he would never move from his bed Walking Papers is the incredibly inspiring story of a young man who wouldn't give up. Francesco Clark was a twenty-four-year-old with a bright future when he went to Long Island for the weekend--but a nocturnal dive into the pool's shallow end changed everything, forever. Paralyzed from the neck down, Francesco was told by his doctors that he would never move from his bed or even breathe without assistance. But Francesco fought back. Within days, he was breathing on his own. His father, a doctor himself, investigated every opportunity for experimental treatment, and Francesco used every resource available to speed his recovery. To avoid having his lungs painfully suctioned, he sang, loudly, for hours--and that was just the beginning. Francesco moved back home with his parents and began the long process toward recovery. Many doctors discourage patients with spinal cord injury from pursuing physical therapy beyond very basic movements, but Francesco embarked on a five-hour daily regimen, including the treadmill program that Christopher Reeve had made famous. Soon he astounded the medical establishment with his progress. Francesco's accident also left him unable to sweat out toxins, leaving his complexion poor. He and his father began to experiment, and the Clark's Botanicals skin-care line was born. Now CB products are sold worldwide in stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, and the company has won many major fashion awards and is enjoyed by a host of celebrities. The lessons Francesco learned about persistence from his recovery process, and the loving support of his amazing family, have both contributed to his incredible business success. Seven years after the accident, Francesco continues to improve and to surprise his doctors--for instance, he can now work on a computer. Walking Papers is the inspiring story of how, with individual determination and unconditional family support, Francesco Clark overcame extreme adversity and achieved an extraordinary triumph.

30 review for Walking Papers: The Accident that Changed My Life, and the Business that Got Me Back on My Feet

  1. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    From now on, I am going to use this book as inspiration every time I feel any little aches or pains in my aging body. The author, at the age of 24 was an assistant editor at Bazzar magazine in NYC, when he severed his spine following a dive into the shallow end of a swimming pool. He was told that he would not be able to even breathe on his own, but he met this challenge and has recovered many former functions. This book, although a fast read that you can finish in one evening takes the reader t From now on, I am going to use this book as inspiration every time I feel any little aches or pains in my aging body. The author, at the age of 24 was an assistant editor at Bazzar magazine in NYC, when he severed his spine following a dive into the shallow end of a swimming pool. He was told that he would not be able to even breathe on his own, but he met this challenge and has recovered many former functions. This book, although a fast read that you can finish in one evening takes the reader through the long journey that the author travelled to painfully and slowly reach the stage where, at the age of 30, he has his own business and is a world ambassador for one of the Chris Reeves foundations and serves on numerous other boards. What differentiates this book from other medical stories is that the author is incredibly relentless in his pursuit of a cure, not just improvement. He went to China for an important operation; he travelled 3 hours a day to get to the best physical therapy center; he went to an experimental program in Detroit where he and his mother lived in a dorm in the dead of winter so he could use the "walking machine" that Chris Reeves had made famous; and quite incredibly, at the beginning of his treatment, he sang for up to 4 hours a day in the hospital to build up his lungs and expel fluids so that he didn't have to suffer through the suctioning which he found so painful. He gives all credit to his family, a large loving supportive and extremely intelligent and resourceful group of people. His father is a doctor and helped him develop his business, "Clark Botanicals" which consists of skin care products he developed out of necessity because he was so grossed out by his own skin problems, and the lack of any products to treat his skin. He went through thousands of products from the most expensive to the cheapest but to no avail, because he had such terrible circulation and he couldn't sweat out the toxins. So he developed products which worked based on refined Jasmine. (I am simplifying here, so don't quote me.) I loved this book because he is so realistic and yet idealistic at the same time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    I really enjoyed this book. Read it in an afternoon. Great story of overcoming odds through lots of effort and openness to alternative methods of healing after he suffers a C4 spinal cord injury at the age of 24. He learns how to lean on people and ask for help while finding meaning in his own healing progress, contributing to others healing through the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation as well as starting his own skin care company, Clark’s botanicals. He’s very honest about the physical and e I really enjoyed this book. Read it in an afternoon. Great story of overcoming odds through lots of effort and openness to alternative methods of healing after he suffers a C4 spinal cord injury at the age of 24. He learns how to lean on people and ask for help while finding meaning in his own healing progress, contributing to others healing through the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation as well as starting his own skin care company, Clark’s botanicals. He’s very honest about the physical and emotional challenges while also being very grateful and intentional at fostering the positive elements of his life.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jackson Matthews

    With the right resources and the right attitude, anything is possible. Thank goodness for his loving family.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alison Ager

    I really wanted to like this book. I love memoirs and the way they improve my perspective/understanding of the human life and individual experiences. But this book was hard for me to get through. Spinal cord injuries are (obviously) a very traumatic thing for the body and you must address progress accordingly. The book read as basically him shitting on everyone trying to help him and discrediting everyone’s true intentions. Also, the PRIVILEGE in this book is nauseating. And he can’t even see ho I really wanted to like this book. I love memoirs and the way they improve my perspective/understanding of the human life and individual experiences. But this book was hard for me to get through. Spinal cord injuries are (obviously) a very traumatic thing for the body and you must address progress accordingly. The book read as basically him shitting on everyone trying to help him and discrediting everyone’s true intentions. Also, the PRIVILEGE in this book is nauseating. And he can’t even see how different his situation was from the others he would describe (without connections) who can’t even afford to THINK about traveling the world for experimental surgeries/medical interventions, or designating all day every day to receiving therapy. AND THEN not even being thankful for the services/acknowledge their impact. The last third of the book is basically an ad for his skin care products, which I’m not mad about...but again, the success through his connections (celebrity, money, and magazine/otherwise) was hard to ignore. Don’t get me wrong, there were great parts. My hatred for the healthcare/insurance dilemma impacting therapeutic progress was adequately described... but the overall feel of this book was...bratty

  5. 5 out of 5

    Felicia

    This is a great read for someone who has a person in your life with a spinal cord injury. Lots of good insight. It is hard to stay positive in the face of so much adversity. Francesco did it well. Inspirational too!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lynnie Pooh

    Inspirational!! Love his story!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    A memoir by a young man who, at the age of 24, unwittingly dove into the shallow end of an unfamiliar pool and changed his life forever. Paralyzed from the neck down, Clark was thrust into a whole new world that he'd never imagined. Frankly, it was one that I'd never imagined either. I think that this is the biggest strength of Clark's memoir: he does such a fantastic job of explaining all of the obstacles that a paralyzed person faces, including plenty of aspects that I had never thought of befo A memoir by a young man who, at the age of 24, unwittingly dove into the shallow end of an unfamiliar pool and changed his life forever. Paralyzed from the neck down, Clark was thrust into a whole new world that he'd never imagined. Frankly, it was one that I'd never imagined either. I think that this is the biggest strength of Clark's memoir: he does such a fantastic job of explaining all of the obstacles that a paralyzed person faces, including plenty of aspects that I had never thought of before. For example, I never realized how difficult it is for people who are paralyzed to breathe on their own because they find it hard to expand and contract their chest muscles. Of course, this makes perfect sense, but it had never occurred to me! This book was filled with lots of that kind of "oh yeah" moment for me. Another strength of this book is Clark himself, his determination to get better. In the immediate aftermath of his accident, he was told he'd be on a ventilator for the rest of his life. But that didn't work for him, so through a combination of singing and yoga breathing exercises, he made himself strong enough to breathe without the aid of machines. How amazing is that? How many people could say that they would have the same amount of determination? I know that I couldn't say that I would. (I also know that I wouldn't have the kind of support from my family that Clark has - what a lucky man!) Clark's determination sees him make many such improvements in his life, achieving lots of things all of his doctors and therapists said he never would. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't inspiring. One downside of the book is that it got a bit repetitive for me, something that I suppose is somewhat understandable - I mean, most of our lives are fairly repetitive; if I wrote a memoir of the last month of my life, it would consist of a lot of "and then I sat on the couch and watched Netflix." Haha. Also, the last few chapters of the book seemed a touch like a commercial for his skin care line, Clark's Botanicals. Also understandable, but it did feel a little forced.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carl Phillips

    Francesco Clark had a promising career at Harper's Bazaar when, at age 24, he suffered a tragic swimming pool accident. His spinal cord was damaged and he was paralized from his neck down. He became very angry when his doctors and therapists all told him he would not get any better, that he must adjust to being helpless for the rest of his life. He pushed his therapists to try new techniques, he volunteered for experimental treatments and was determined to regain the use of his body. He has disc Francesco Clark had a promising career at Harper's Bazaar when, at age 24, he suffered a tragic swimming pool accident. His spinal cord was damaged and he was paralized from his neck down. He became very angry when his doctors and therapists all told him he would not get any better, that he must adjust to being helpless for the rest of his life. He pushed his therapists to try new techniques, he volunteered for experimental treatments and was determined to regain the use of his body. He has discovered that his spinal cord is beginning to regenerate and he is slowly regaining feeling and use of his arms and other parts of his body. This is a remarkable story of courage. His body lost the ability to sweat and his skin dried and developed sores. He and his father experimented with herbal creams, mixing them, searching for soothing creams for his skin. As a result of their experiments, he launched Clark's Botanical, a line of high end creams and lotions, that has become very successful, with his products now selling throughout the world.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rosie Beck

    A book about survival after a life changing dive into a pool permanently (?) paralyzed 24 year old Francesco Clark. He explores every possible option available, including experimental surgery in China, and volunteering for robotics and treadmill hoisting. Against all odds, and with almost superhuman dedication to a rigorous regimen, he slowly regained some use of his arms and fingers, feeling in his toes, ribs and bottom (no small accomplishment). He credits the Christopher and Dana Reeve founda A book about survival after a life changing dive into a pool permanently (?) paralyzed 24 year old Francesco Clark. He explores every possible option available, including experimental surgery in China, and volunteering for robotics and treadmill hoisting. Against all odds, and with almost superhuman dedication to a rigorous regimen, he slowly regained some use of his arms and fingers, feeling in his toes, ribs and bottom (no small accomplishment). He credits the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation for much of their help. He now runs the business of Clark's Botanicals, developed for his skin/being wheel chair bound.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    Amazing courage Francisco is the type of person you want on your side when all else is failing. His determination to try and conquer all is just amazing. Having the guts to move on after such a freak accident left me in awe. Where most of us would have given up, Francisco was determined to success. I read this book after seeing Lou pick it up in the library in Me Before You . I truly wish she'd been able to convince Will to live and maybe research some of Francisco's amazing accomplishments. It w Amazing courage Francisco is the type of person you want on your side when all else is failing. His determination to try and conquer all is just amazing. Having the guts to move on after such a freak accident left me in awe. Where most of us would have given up, Francisco was determined to success. I read this book after seeing Lou pick it up in the library in Me Before You . I truly wish she'd been able to convince Will to live and maybe research some of Francisco's amazing accomplishments. It would have made an excellent sequel. Sadly it wasn't meant to be. Awesome book, I will read it again.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Donna Silber

    I enjoyed this book. It shows how resilient the human spirit is and how much you can achieve with the love and support of your family and friends. Even though I wasnt paralyzed there were times when I could barely make it out of bed so I can relate to his feelings of just wanting to do something but not being able. Another great thing to come out of this book is the skincare products that he created - for years I have been searching for skin care products for my terrible skin - I have rosacea an I enjoyed this book. It shows how resilient the human spirit is and how much you can achieve with the love and support of your family and friends. Even though I wasnt paralyzed there were times when I could barely make it out of bed so I can relate to his feelings of just wanting to do something but not being able. Another great thing to come out of this book is the skincare products that he created - for years I have been searching for skin care products for my terrible skin - I have rosacea and get terrible lupus sores - I am definitely going to try his products and see if they help!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Josiah

    Plot: A Writing: B Vocabulary: B Level: Easy Rating: PG (diving accident, paralysis, pain of medical procedures, references to depression) Worldview: It's wrong to crush someone's hopes now in an effort to protect their feelings later. Hope motivates us to keep going, trying, living. Medicine is an art that uses science; doctors don't know what's impossible. Francesco Clark is an inspiration! Despite the tragedy he suffered, he survived and is learning to thrive beyond the limits of expectation. Plot: A Writing: B Vocabulary: B Level: Easy Rating: PG (diving accident, paralysis, pain of medical procedures, references to depression) Worldview: It's wrong to crush someone's hopes now in an effort to protect their feelings later. Hope motivates us to keep going, trying, living. Medicine is an art that uses science; doctors don't know what's impossible. Francesco Clark is an inspiration! Despite the tragedy he suffered, he survived and is learning to thrive beyond the limits of expectation.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Staci

    The first two thirds of this book were really good. It is amazing how far he has come since his accident, and I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned regarding how NOT to allow doctors' predictions to become reality... The last third of the books ruined it for me though. It became a total advertisement for his products. I recognize he is trying to make a living. But really. Put an ad in a magazine. The first two thirds of this book were really good. It is amazing how far he has come since his accident, and I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned regarding how NOT to allow doctors' predictions to become reality... The last third of the books ruined it for me though. It became a total advertisement for his products. I recognize he is trying to make a living. But really. Put an ad in a magazine.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    Good book of tremendous spirit in the midst of dealing with a horrendous tragedy. Francesco Clark is a vibrant young man with is life ahead of him...then he dives into a pool and it paralyzed. His uplifting story speaks of belief, family and support. He recounts the dark times as well as his successes and is able to speak honestly about what has kept him going in the face of such tragedy. It's an amazing story and simply told. I read it yesterday afternoon at the pool - quick read. Good book of tremendous spirit in the midst of dealing with a horrendous tragedy. Francesco Clark is a vibrant young man with is life ahead of him...then he dives into a pool and it paralyzed. His uplifting story speaks of belief, family and support. He recounts the dark times as well as his successes and is able to speak honestly about what has kept him going in the face of such tragedy. It's an amazing story and simply told. I read it yesterday afternoon at the pool - quick read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Clark is inspiring. His story makes me grateful for my health and reminds me to not take life for granted. As a beauty junkie, I've wanted to try his Clark's Botanicals line for quite some time, but was put off by the price. Now that I know more about what went into them, I'm likely to purchase, especially considering a portion goes to SCI research. Clark is inspiring. His story makes me grateful for my health and reminds me to not take life for granted. As a beauty junkie, I've wanted to try his Clark's Botanicals line for quite some time, but was put off by the price. Now that I know more about what went into them, I'm likely to purchase, especially considering a portion goes to SCI research.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    The part I liked best was where he did not let the medical establishment dictate how he was going to overcome his tremendous disability. It helped that his parents were doctors, and they wanted to do whatever it took to improve his outlook. He did work hard and is giving hope to many people I am sure.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    I just reviewed the wrong book for this one. Anyway, I think I said something like it was emotionally difficult to read as the story is true and very sad. Francesco's optimism is envious even in his situation. I had no idea the kinds of things that paralyzed people go through. Makes you thankful for being healthy. I just reviewed the wrong book for this one. Anyway, I think I said something like it was emotionally difficult to read as the story is true and very sad. Francesco's optimism is envious even in his situation. I had no idea the kinds of things that paralyzed people go through. Makes you thankful for being healthy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    A current story that challenges assumptions, and illuminates the difficulty of balancing an acceptance of limitations with a fierce determination to move beyond them. Clark's innovative thinking has kept him from being limited by the failings of the medical system and insurance, and it's no surprise that his innovation has led him into success in business as well. A current story that challenges assumptions, and illuminates the difficulty of balancing an acceptance of limitations with a fierce determination to move beyond them. Clark's innovative thinking has kept him from being limited by the failings of the medical system and insurance, and it's no surprise that his innovation has led him into success in business as well.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Selma de Oliveira

    THIS BOOK IS A GREAT INSPIRATION. WE LIVE OUR LIVES EVERY DAY TAKING FOR GRANTED THE BEAUTY OF OUR FUNCTIONING BODY. THIS WAS A LESSON FOR ME. FROM NOW ON I WILL APPRECIATE AND USE MY BODY THE PROPER WAY. THIS BOOK ALSO HELPED ME TO STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE. THANK YOU FRANCESCO FOR HELPING ME UNDERSTAND.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    Great book that I would recommend to any healthcare professional! Really made me analyze how I speak to patients that have a diagnosis that is grim. The goal is to allow them to have hope because the science is never settled. Inspirational story and an amazing family behind Francesco. I really enjoyed reading this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Diana-christie Biancardi

    Very good book. So sad this 24 yr old kid lost the ability to walk because he jumped into 4 feet of water in a pool and hit his chin which injured his spinal cord. Now he has his own successful business worldwide: Clark's Botanicals. Very good book. So sad this 24 yr old kid lost the ability to walk because he jumped into 4 feet of water in a pool and hit his chin which injured his spinal cord. Now he has his own successful business worldwide: Clark's Botanicals.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Erin Smeby

    Inspirational - his life, told his way.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    I read this book in one sitting. It was engrossing, inspiring and uplifting. It made me so grateful for my health and helped me believe in the power of hope.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I loved this book! Such an inspiration!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    Excellent book, very inspiring. Shows what you can do when you don't allow the world to tell you what your limits are. Excellent book, very inspiring. Shows what you can do when you don't allow the world to tell you what your limits are.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Excellent true story about the author's paralyzing injury and how he learned to live with and cope with it. Inspiring to see him pushing the known limits of people with spinal cord injuries. Excellent true story about the author's paralyzing injury and how he learned to live with and cope with it. Inspiring to see him pushing the known limits of people with spinal cord injuries.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anna K. Amendolare

    Wonderful and inspiring story. If you get anything out of this, it should be gratitude for the day-to-day activities that we all take for granted.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Armatstorage

    Loved it. Great achievement by Clark.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jennipher

    Does it get more inspirational than a TRUE story about tragedy turned opportunity?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    Enjoyable and inspiring read. Francesco's determination and spirit are admirable. Reader will leave feeling empowered by his story which reminds us to be grateful, patient and forgiving. Enjoyable and inspiring read. Francesco's determination and spirit are admirable. Reader will leave feeling empowered by his story which reminds us to be grateful, patient and forgiving.

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