The film RIDE: A Brutal Fairytale is a powerful reminder of the tenacious human spirit, and the incredible feats that can be accomplished when we refuse to give up. Following the lives and careers of the world’s best BMX riders Sam and Alise Willoughby, the film encapsulates the true definition of “love conquers all” in the wake of a tragic bike accident that leaves Sam a tetraplegic.
From childhood, both Sam and Alise discovered their passion for the extreme sport of BMX in their respective backyards — and on opposite sides of the planet. Alise conquered the circuit in Minnesota, quickly rising through the ranks of a male-dominated sport to prove she deserved a place on top, while Sam broke away from the pack in Adelaide, Australia, revealing his hell-bent spirit that left other racers in his wake.
When Sam moved to America, their love for the sport — and each other — blossomed. The film shows a touching culmination of their relationship, with adrenaline-fueled scenes of Alise making a name for herself, and Sam winning silver at the 2012 London Olympics, alongside emotional insights into their personal lives.
When Alise takes home a long-awaited silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and Sam misses the podium, he must confront his fear of failure. Little does he know, his world is about to turn upside down.
In a following training session, Sam has a tragic accident that results in an initial diagnosis of permanent paralysis — told by doctors that he would never have his independence again.
Following a moving journey of loss, acceptance, and redemption, Sam learns to adapt — physically and mentally — to this new life he’s been forced into. With Alise by his side, the pair returns to the BMX track, this time as rider and coach.
“We obviously come from worlds apart, but we call this home and much of our story has been written here, so it feels amazing to be sharing it through this documentary here in the US,” said Sam. “We think it can relate to all audiences as the ultimate love story and hope it provides a beacon of light to anyone going through their own challenges in life.”
For individuals who have both experienced the trauma of an accident that left them disabled, and for their caretakers whose lives have been shifted, this film instills a renewed hope in the wake of tragedy. When digging deep for the physical and mental strength to continue, Sam and Alise are living proof that disability does not equate to inability.
“With our close ties here in Colorado through Craig Hospital, the USOPC and other athletes, we hope the documentary sheds light and spreads awareness on the sporting, disability, family, and female leadership communities while opens discussion on overcoming and thriving,” said Sam.
RIDE premieres this Saturday, March 4 at 6:00pm at the Boulder International Film Festival. In addition to the film’s showing, the Willoughby couple will be engaging in a community Call2Action discussion to connect in meaningful conversation about adaptive sports, overcoming all odds, and discovering newfound aspirations.