Biografia - Fernando Fernandes Life
English Brasil

I was always a sports fan. Growing up I used to practice all possible sports, including soccer, even playing at a professional club and becoming a professional at 17 years old. A year later however I was draft into the Brazilian Army, and remain there until I was 19 years old. From there, I went to California to study English and parallel to sports activities I became a model. Once back to Brazil after this period, I was invited by a modeling agency to go to New York. From there I started to get in contact with the privileges of being an international model.

One morning I got a call from my mother, saying that a War had started in the US. I barely knew, but the September 11th tragedy was taking place at that moment. The city became a real chaos and we couldn´t do anything except wait to find out more about what was going on. Despite the uncertainty days, I decided that yet wasn´t time to go back to Brazil because living there was a unique opportunity. I was the best decision because several jobs appeared, such as a Abercrombie & Fitch campaign, with Bruce Weber, one of the most well-known photographers in the world. I also participate in the Calvin Klein fashion show, among other jobs, and in the end of the season I came back to Brazil.

Boxing was continuously a part of my life, and when back to Brazil I started practicing more. One day, coming back from one practice I was approached by a guy in the street saying that he was a scout and invited me to participate in the Brazilian edition of Big Brother. In the beginning I wasn´t very comfortable with the idea, with doubts I accepted to record an audition video. Two weeks later I was in the show, where I remained for 3 weeks, and made some friends that I dearly keep nowadays.

When I came out of the show I decided to study drama and went to Rio de Janeiro to live there for better professional opportunities. This period was very pleasant, and I engaged in 3 different plays. “Endependência”, from João Brandão; “A Missão Secreta de Tom Rilver”, from Moises Bittencourt; and “O Ateneu”, directed by Leo Bricio, Andre Mattos and Gaspar Filho.

Even during those theater times, sports were still part of my life. At the same time I was studying Physical Education at a local university and still practicing boxing. At this time I also became the Beginners State Champion, practicing with Raff Gilio, in the Vidigal Hill. During those times I also travelled all over the country playing soccer in charity events.

I was involved in thousands of things at the same time, my career as a model was blooming, and from that I made my living. Another important point was when I met the Peruvian photographer Mario Testino. He photographed me for German Vogue, and in the end of 2009 I was invited to star in a Dolce&Gabanna perfume campaign with the top models Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer and Eva Herzigova. This job put me in evidence in the international market and I was invited by several agencies to work in Europe. I spent some time in Athens, Greece, and went back to Brazil to prepare myself for the launch of the campaign which would offer me even better opportunities.

In the 4th of July of 2009, however, all those plans were interrupted. When coming back home after a day full of activities, I slept while driving. I only remember waking up in a place full of lights and with people wearing white clothes. Under the effect of strong painkillers I asked myself if I was dead, and if I was in heaven. Slowly I started to wake up and becoming aware that I was actually in a hospital. I was desperate once realized I couldn´t move my legs, unexplained an enormous strength took over my thoughts and I became calm. I decided I would live one day at a time. I spent 5 days in the Intensive Care Unit, but I knew my life was not at risk. I was in a public hospital, in the care of an extremely competent and human team.

Family and friends were crucial in the day to day, and served as fuel for my recovery. I spent one month in the hospital, and left to go home. After a while I went to Brasilia to start my recovery in the well-known Rehabilitation Center Sarah. Over there I become in touch with other people who faced the same reality, medullar and brain lesion, among other disabilities that up to that day where not imaginable to me. In a way it gave me more strength, because it became clear to me that even though my problem was big, there were people in much more complicated situations than I was.

I already had made a decision to not surrender and once I got there I was sure that I was not only not going to give up, but I would be thankful to GOD for the given opportunity. I started the physiotherapy, followed by light physical training. Of course my first goal was to walk once more, but I couldn’t simply stop my life until that happened. So to become better, I started weight training, running with the wheelchair and walking with orthosis in the physical therapy. This daily overcome of difficulties allowed me overwhelmed pleasure, so to make things more interesting, I had the idea of taking part of the São Paulo´s São Silvestre 15km race. It happened only 3 months after my accident, and from there I had 2 months to be ready for it, but walking once more was in my plans.

Discharged from the clinical rehabilitation at Sarah, I was transferred to Sarah North Lake to focus in the life rehabilitation. Over there I had a better opportunity of focusing in the training for the 15km race, that takes place in the last day of the year. In the 23rd of December I went back to São Paulo for the end of the year holidays to spend time with my family. The affection of my parents, brothers and friends made me even stronger, but I couldn´t stop thinking about the race. And in the 31st of December I was there, at Paulista Avenue, ready to reach my goal.

The start was one of the most emotional days of my life, because it was a moment of reflection, and despite the heat of the race, a movie went through my head, remembering all the moments of my life. It gave me strength to pursue the race and face the rise of Brigadeiro Luis Antonio, guiding my wheelchair with my hands in flesh blood. Despite the pain I knew I couldn´t give up. I was there representing a part of the population that goes through several difficulties and several times are ashamed of going out of the house for fear of the prejudice and the infra structure for the disable that Brazil lacks to offer.

When I overcome this famous and feared hill, it looked like nothing else would get in my way. However o couple of meters from the finishing line, my front tire blew up. But after those 15km facing all of those ups and downs in my wheelchair, emotional and physical extreme distress I would stop for a flat tire. And I finished the race to have one of the biggest gifts I ever got: seeing my parents proud to see me overcoming a enormous barrier.

Nowadays I live in São Paulo, writing a new chapter of my story, training and competing in canoeing, that became a part of my life in Brasilia, when I was in the Rehabilitation Center Sarah making me physically and mentally grow. I still have FAITH and HOPE that things will improve, and meanwhile I try to overcome the difficulties with no fear, using the tools handle to me by God: THE SPORT!

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