OC man inspires others with brain injuries by riding hydro-bike from Catalina to Newport Beach

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Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Brain injury survivor overcomes odds with grit, determination
A man who survived a traumatic crash that left him with permanent brain damage is now defying the odds in a different way. He crossed the ocean from Catalina Island to Newport Beach on a hydro-bike, breaking his own record as he inspires others to overcome the odds.

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Newport Beach resident Matt Thomas recently broke his own record. He spent nine hours on a hydro-bike, pedaling about 30 miles from Catalina to Newport Beach!

"You're in the middle of the ocean with no one around," he said. "You see whales, you see dolphins, you have all these different things."

Thomas arrived to a crowd of supporters who know how far he has come. When he was just 19, he nearly lost his life in a DUI crash. Thomas was in a coma for three months. Now, he is helping others with traumatic brain injuries and using these ocean rides to shine light on it.

"I give them encouragement: singing, dancing, showing them that you can do it because I had a 5% chance to live. Prognosis poor, everything was just done, finished you know. I couldn't do anything, but here it is, you know," said Thomas.

Everything he does, he does with joy - and it's contagious.

"Matt's the guy that if you meet him, you won't ever forget him and he's overcome so much," said Jim Trenton, a radio personality.

"It really is wonderful to see someone who's gone through trauma and a tragedy to bring the light and the positive part of the experience and help others get to that point," said Aime McCrory, event coordinator.

"It's inspiring man. I mean, I would never do what he's doing today," said Mark Jennings, of Cabo Cantina.

Thomas was never expected to function on his own, let alone ride a hydro-bike. Now he's crossing the ocean on one - an accomplishment that will be featured in a documentary at the Newport Beach Film Festival.

For more information on Matt's mission, visit www.positive-matters.org.