2012Nov 16

SPAD Alumni Profile: Tom “Big Poppa” Nicholls and his Big Heart

Tom Nicholls (SPAD’89) presenting a cheque to Ron Waite, President – Sport PEI.

By SPAD Blogger Benoit Roy

On May 12, 2012, Tom Nicholls (SPAD’89) an award-winning business owner, World Champion Powerlifter and Commonwealth Gold Medallist, was involved in a serious crash while racing his pro-stock car at the Halifax Speedway in a practice session, which left him in critical condition and fighting for his life.  Nicholls had been racing for two years with his team, Big Poppas 63 Motorsports at the time of the accident, and was participating in this event to raise funds and awareness for charities such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society and KidSport in Prince Edward Island.  In the past, Tom’s charitable efforts, along with the support of his businesses Vacationland RV Park and Naturally Fit Total FX, have raised $12,600 and another $11,151 respectively for the MS Society and KidSport.  His accident left him in hospital for several weeks as a result of a severe brain and neck injury and three cardiac arrests.  Upon hearing this news, and of an upcoming fundraising event being held by Tom’s family and friends, SPAD faculty members and alumnus Diane Mihalek sought the assistance of SPAD Alumni to help Tom and his family during this period of recovery.  Fortunately, the SPAD family came through once again.

SPAD Alumni donated a variety of items towards the fundraising evening in an effort to support Tom’s recovery during this time.  The response to this call to action certainly demonstrates the lengths to which the SPAD network will go in order to support one of their own in need, particularly for someone who has done so much for others in need.  Currently, Tom is still in recovery but in the four-month period since his accident, he has made incredible progress towards making a full recovery. Through physiotherapy, he has even returned to doing some light training (he squatted 260 lbs. just last week) and continues to organize charitable events.

Tom’s strength lies in the fact that he is a successful athlete, has won many world, national, and provincial titles in powerlifting and stock car racing, proving his determination and passion for sport.  This strength and positivity have played a significant role in his incredible recovery, along with the support of all of his friends, family and strangers, and demonstrates how a terrible situation can be remedied through one’s positive outlook on life.  A recent post to his Facebook page included the following: I hope others can gain something from what we have gone through.  Several adjectives, etc. can help explain the journey – determination, togetherness, friends, appreciation, stay positive, never give up or never yield, smile, happiness, strong support network, hard work, love, only the strong survive, and the one I don’t do well at-patience! Tom”

It can be stated that what you put forth will pay dividends if performed with good intentions and that is certainly the case as Tom has been able to walk away from this accident knowing that his strength and charitable nature resonated with SPAD Alumni (many of whom he did not know) who rose up to support Tom’s charitable causes and his recovery.  From the School of Sports Administration, we would like to thank all of those who came together in support of our alumnus and we’d like to wish Tom a speedy and healthy recovery. Tom, you represent everything good that SPAD tries to be.

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