Love triumphs in the most horrific year of their lives
IT HAS been a year to forget for Scott Hoare but the former Gympie man has married the love of his life, Angie Minucos, to put a silver lining on what was the worst year of their lives.
One year ago, on December 2, 2016, the popular former St Patrick's student was swimming in the surf at Coogee Beach in Sydney when he hit his head on a sandbank and broke his neck.
He was told he would be a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.
"It's like we lost a year of our lives, basically," Mr Hoare said.
"Everything was normal until the Second of December, everything got turned on its head and we had no control.
"Our hands were not on the steering wheel, we were passengers for so much time."
Two days after Mr Hoare came out of Intensive Care, Ms Minucos proposed; a few days later they had set the date - December 2 - the anniversary of the injury.
"At the time that was massive. I couldn't move anything from my neck down," Mr Hoare said.
"With that knowledge, she still proposed.
"She was so committed to me. She basically threw her life, her normal life, away to live with me."
From that tale comes a deeper story of determination and love.
In 2013, both Mr Hoare, now 29, and Ms Minucos were travelling in Canada and fate brought them together.
"It started in Toronto in Canada, we met through mutual friends who played in my rugby team," Mr Hoare said.
"We were having a party, I walked into the lounge room and saw her.
"I thought, 'what was a girl, this pretty, doing in my house'?"
The couple were friends for about six months before romance grew.
"Everyone else knew we liked each other but we didn't really want anything serious, but couldn't help it any more."
Ms Minucos was a cheerleader for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League, and Mr Hoare soon returned home for a mining job.
The couple did "the long distance thing" for a while, until Ms Minucos joined Mr Hoare in Canberra where they both studied fitness.
After the pair finished their studies in April 2015, they sold their belongings and booked one-way tickets to North America to chase Ms Minucos' dream of being a cheerleader for NFL team, The San Diego Chargers.
Out of over 500 applicants, Ms Minucos was selected as one of eight to be offered contracts and the couple embarked on the chance of a lifetime.
"It was ridiculous, it was not like real life," Mr Hoare said.
In April 2016, they returned to Australia and settled in Ms Minucos' home town of Sydney.
"In those few months she (Ms Minucos) started her own cheer-leading agency," Mr Hoare said.
"I was studying physiotherapy while working part time and we were starting to move forward.
"I finished semester two at uni, then not even a week later I broke my neck."
The cruel twist of fate landed a heavy blow to the couple and their world was turned upside down.
While in hospital for one of the many surgeries, the surgeon asked Mr Hoare if he was ready, he responded: "Let's do this".
On Saturday, December 2, 2017, exactly one year after his injury, Mr Hoare said something similar as he wed Angie Minucos in a ceremony at Narrabeen Surf Life Saving Club.
It was the highlight and exclamation point to a year that completely changed their lives.
Mr Hoare's recovery is also progressing, with partial arm and finger control returning after vigorous rehabilitation.
"We streamed the wedding live, about 1000 people watched from around the world," Mr Hoare said.
"It was amazing, we had so many close friends from so far away.
"On my side, I had probably three people from Sydney and we had 150 there."
Mr Hoare said things are becoming better with time.
"When I look back, it's been obviously the worst year of our lives. At the same time we've come out the other end, I've got the best job I've ever had. I'm married. I'm at uni."
Mr Hoare now leads a gym's athlete development program, a dream job he picked up only five months after his injury.
"Angie and I are closer than we've ever been. We're closer with our families than ever before," he said.
"We look back and we say: "If that's the worst year, then we are pretty good."
"Everything I did this year was a first, and it was so emotional