Sami on a mountain joyously holding a bike above his head

Patient Story

Sami’s Story: Tackling Life’s Biggest Mountain

Posted By Meg Washburn


In 2015, Sami Marouki, a chocolatier from Venezuela and an active outdoorsman, was abruptly sidelined when he sustained a spinal cord injury.

“I was a really active person, I was a good hiker, I was a runner,” said Sami. “I was thinking to go someday to [Mount] Everest. I think God or life told me, ‘I will send you up a mountain higher than Everest.’”

A motorcycle accident sent Sami plunging 60 feet down a mountain and resulted in a broken back, spinal cord and five ribs, as well as two collapsed lungs.

Our bodies are fragile, but our soul is strong, Push yourself and believe you can recover, and you will be stronger than before.

Sami Marouki


Sami knew that undergoing extensive rehabilitation would be crucial to making a strong recovery, and wanted the best chance for the strongest outcome. He chose to come to the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, traveling more than 2,500 miles to receive intensive inpatient and outpatient therapy. 

Sami took advantage of all the hospital had to offer, pushing himself in daily therapy sessions and even participating in research studies as a means to advance his recovery.


Today, as Sami prepares to return to Venezuela, he’s more independent than ever and again enjoys an active lifestyle that includes jogging and biking.

“Our bodies are fragile, but our soul is strong,” said Sami. “…Push yourself and believe you can recover, and you will be stronger than before.”

While he’s eager to return home, his departure is met with mixed emotions.

“I will miss every day when I come here — the colors, the people,” he said. I leave a part of my heart here.”

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