A RUGBY accident which stopped a promising young sportsman in his tracks didn’t dampen Lars Andrews’ love of sport.
Lars, 48, from Sidlesham, suffered temporary paralysis following a rugby accident in his teens.
From that day on his world changed, but he used his accident to motivate him to do good.
After extensively studying exercise physiology, psychology and physical therapy to help himself get back to health, he worked on many academic accomplishments, including a masters degree in cardiology.
Now he encourages those with cardiac conditions to get back into health, and even run marathons.
This is recorded in his book Cardiac Athletes, which brings together a host of stories from those with heart conditions who have gone on to become successful sportsman.
Lars said: “I broke my neck playing rugby for the high school, that put an end to my sports days.”
He spent more than 20 years working in cardiology departments in the UK and Australia and giving lectures to cardiac rehabilitation patients.
It was following these experiences that he set up a website called Cardiac Athletes, a place where athletes with heart conditions can talk to each other on a forum and gain advice.
It was here that the incredible stories of victims of heart disease came together from all over the world, fighting to overcome illness and get back to their previous level of fitness, or even better than they were before.
These stories kick-started his idea to compile a series of short, inspirational stories about cardiac athletes into a book.
The phrase, and consequently the name of his book, Cardiac Athlete stemmed from a conversation Lars heard between two doctors discussing a patient as a ‘cardiac cripple’.
He was angered by this description, as through his knowledge of psychology he knew the power behind words can disempower a person when used in this way.
He searched for a word which was the ‘polar opposite’ of ‘cripple’ and in a eureka moment came up with Cardiac Athlete.
His belief in patients trying to overcome illness and disability motivated him to create this book.
In the book’s preface he said the book was ‘for anyone seeking inspiration’ and for ‘anyone with a heart’.
Lars gathered stories from all over the world, from the USA to India.
Each athlete shares their journey from the discovery of their problem, through its diagnosis and treatment, and the long-term consequences.
They give honest accounts of how it feels to have your life changed by heart conditions, and how they manage to get back to sport.
Lars set up Cardiac Athletes Trust Fund, which has raised money to buy baby heart monitors, defibrillators for sports clubs and heart screening for young athletes.
These machines save the lives of babies, young adults and older people, from generous donations.
The global Cardiac Athletes organisation is based in Chichester and has 1,500 registered forum members from around the world.
Financial grants from the organisation go towards many things, like research into cardiac birth defects, provision of baby monitors, and helping adults with heart disease to be able to afford heart surgeries and rehabilitations.
Marathons, iron man competitions and various other sporting events have been completed by the members of Cardiac Athletes.
Despite a setback early in life, this hasn’t stopped Lars from helping others, and to continue to do so.
You can buy Cardiac Athletes by Lars Andrews online at Amazon and in various bookshops.