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'Life Is Really Amazing' After a Car Accident Paralyzed a Wall Street Trader, He Opened Luxury Resorts That Fund Art Education for Locals Tim Reynold's horrible car accident opened his eyes to a chance to change people's lives.

By Bill Schulz

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

ÀNI

When Tim Reynolds was exiting a holiday party on December 14, 2000, the then-34-year-old, multi-millionaire co-founder of global proprietary trading firm Jane Street Capital was, by anyone's estimation, winning at life.

Tim's wife, Caroline, had just given birth to their third child and his firm was on its way to eventually trading trillions in global equities, bonds and ETFs. Everything couldn't have been more on-paper-perfect for this already accomplished endurance athlete and artist.

That all changed within several horrific seconds. Reynolds says his driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a four-lane, New Jersey bridge causeway. Shell-shocked, he attempted to exit the vehicle only to watch as a sports car veered off the road and pinned him to the door. The result was multiple broken ribs, a pair of exceedingly damaged lungs, and an obliterated spinal column.

"I almost died, but luckily I was an avid runner and in the middle of training for another marathon," recounts Reynolds during our recent chat. "I also didn't smoke and the doctors maintained that helped my overall fifty-fifty chance of survival — I was very septic, especially while the lungs were bleeding."

Tragically, no amount of miles run could've spared Reynolds the fact that he no longer had use of his legs from the waist down. This young, active, successful family guy was now a paraplegic and nobody would've begrudged the man were he to while away his days drowning his sorrows in a bottle of scotch.

But he didn't do that. Instead, Reynolds worked for another twelve years at the company he created and established The Reynolds Family Spine Laboratory at Rutgers. "They are currently having some amazing success with electric stimulation of the spine," he told Entrepreneur. "Nothing to unveil as of yet, so I can't be specific, but it's exciting."

Related: 4 Tips for Finding Happiness Along Your Entrepreneurial Journey

He also launched Ani Private Resorts (from the Swahili word, "Adjani", meaning "to be on a path or journey") in Anguilla (2011), the Dominican Republic (2018), Thailand (2016) and Sri Lanka (2017).

The properties were recently featured in Netflix's The World's Most Amazing Vacation Rentals, which would be quite the feather in any resort's cap, but his project was, and is, so much more than that.

Related: 5 Deadliest Luxury Vacation Spots on Earth

The plan

Tim's entire concept is that his one-percenter patrons pay roughly $13,000 per night to help fund the enterprise's adjacent art academies which teach, fund and promote low-income, locals who all receive a free lunch and an immersive education in painting-for-fun-plus-profit.

The students are taught via the dictums of Reynolds's own mentor, acclaimed painter Anthony Waichulis, and keep 100 percent of the work they sell at the villas, with works going for around $2,500 and upwards. In the developing countries where many of the resorts are based, parents usually work for around $11 a day. The money made by these burgeoning Botticellis can reset lives.

Credit: ÀNI

"I remember, in one of our academies, seeing this student — she couldn't have been more than a 100 lbs. —just piling a surreal amount of food onto her plate," recalls Reynolds. "It hit me that this was the only meal she was probably going to eat all day."

Related: 5 Essential Steps to Expand Your Vision and Start Living Your Dream Life

Tim's goal is to have a hundred percent of his academies administered by alumni, and he's well on his way to doing just that. Notable graduates have become Manhattan-based gallery owners, gold medalists in the California Art League Competition, Best in Show champs at Santa Fe's Fusion Festival, Camelback Gallery Merit Award winners, and have been featured within some of the world's most revered art industry magazines.

"We merely hone their skills," reports Reynolds, "so as to allow them to achieve whatever they want." More left-brained locals have the option of taking free computer and English language courses near resort properties.

"My wife and I were always planning on building regular schools in developing nations," explains Reynolds. "But I knew how much painting helped me, plus here was all this poverty, in many of these places, mixed with gorgeous, inspirational coastlines and wealthy tourists."

Initially, most guests want portraits of their children. And when they see the amazing quality of the work, they often come back for other pieces that are connected to the lives of the artists, not their own.

The properties

Reservations usually run at around six suites, for five days and six to twenty-eight people can commandeer an entire resort during their stay. The best way to convey the overall exclusivity of these destinations is to hear how Reynolds had to invest in some unique forms of 21st-century protection.

"Clientele often brings their own security details, but we've had to look into radar systems that pick up drones," says Reynolds. "Those things are looking for paparazzi pics of guests, but now we have tech that can pick up approaching drones and, well, the local police are always helpful."

While Reynolds is, of course, reticent on relaying the identities of A-List visitors that come for the properties and the privacy, but hey, if they throw their selfies on social media?

"I suppose I can mention Aaron Paul since he posted his stay online," admits Reynolds, since the Breaking Bad actor, along with star-of-the-show, Bryan Cranston, stayed at Ani's Dominican Republic resort for Aaron's 40th birthday in 2019. "He was a really great guy."

Amenities include open bars, daily massages, cigar rolling classes, tennis, paddle boarding, SCUBA diving, cliff jumping, horseback riding, private cruises, world-class golf, basketball and rappelling down mountain waterfalls.

Credit: ÀNI

"My wife and I were at the Dominican Republic location last summer, which ended up being one of the best experiences of our lives," recounts Joe Carey, founder of crisis and litigation communications firm Carey Strategic Communications. "The price includes all meals, which are prepared by an amazing chef, massages every day, cocktail mixology sessions, cooking classes, Dominican rum tastings…we'd never really seen anything like this."

Related: 22 Habits of Elon Musk, Warren Buffet and Other Successful Leaders

The perspective

"I've done a lot of research on happiness and recall one study where paraplegics were rated against lottery winners," recalls Reynolds. "After initial sadness, those who were paralyzed rated their day-to-day pleasure higher than the lotto people."

Tim's opening his second, Anguilla-based, 15-suite estate in 2024.

"We're also about to close on ten acres in Turks & Caicos," adds Reynolds.

Which is walking distance from where he first met his wife while, in his words, "wanting to have fun for six months after graduating from Cornell" as a Club Med bartender, back in 1992.

"What happened to me makes you reassess the way you prioritize everything," admits Reynolds. "Little things that used to bother me [before my accident], do not bother me anymore."

He adds: "My back pain still bothers me to this day, but don't waste your time on trivial things, because life is really amazing."

Related: 7 Ways to Snag Tourist Dollars and Keep Locals Happy at the Same Time

Credit: ÀNI

Bill Schulz

Contributor

Bill Schulz is the former co-host of Fox News Channel's late-night panel show Red Eye, current MC of CompoundMedia.com's Mornin!!! With Bill Schulz & Joanne Nosuchinsky, and permanent Leo (who acts like a total Sagittarius).

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