Life in Pickering was very simple and quiet for a number of years. Growing up I lived a comfortable life and attended school at Valley Farm P.S. From a young age I had an interest in sports and it soon became my passion. At the age of 6, I started playing house league baseball and from there I moved up the ranks to the Pickering Red Sox Rep Organization where I would play for another 6 years.
In my junior years of school, volleyball, basketball, and track and field were my favourite sports. I was on each team in my school. I was a dedicated student and well liked by both students and teachers. I managed to always keep busy with different school events whether it be sports, student council, band camp or volunteering at annual events. By the time grade 8 rolled around, it was evident that I was destined for athletic greatness as I was already receiving letters about attending local high schools.
Upon starting grade 9 in 2002 I very quickly became busy with sports. I continued playing with the Pickering Red Sox rep. baseball team, and joined other teams including, Team Ontario Provincial baseball, and the volleyball and track and field teams for Pickering High School. It was at the 2004 OFSSA Provincial track and field championship when I won my first gold medal in the 100m hurdles, that I realized my dream of going to the United States to pursue my post-secondary education on a scholarship could be a reality. However, it was shortly after my gold medal race that I would be forced to take a year off from all physical activity due to a sports injury.
Prior to this occurring I was always an optimistic and upbeat person. For the first time in a long time, I found myself with more free time on my hands than I knew what to do with – this time would prove to be a turning point in my life. I began hanging out with a different crowd and before I knew it the dreams I once had, slowly began to slip away.
By the end of grade 12 when all my friends were graduating and preparing for the next stage of their life I found myself 2 credits short of graduating. At the time, I thought it was not to bad; then, I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime and what I had always dreamed for a scholarship doing what I loved best, hurdling. The choices I had made during my year off combined with my lack of effort proved to be my demise; attending school in the states in the fall of ’07 was no longer an option. Shortly after not graduating or going away to school I decided giving up was not an option,, failure, a word that scared me was now present in my mind. I realized that if I wanted to make things happen I needed to shape up.
Finally after another good knock to the head, I got myself back on track because I had a dream and a goal – nothing was going to stop me from achieving it. I went back to training and was now working at Autoboyz Service Center in an effort to save money to make up a bit of a shortfall for what was now the possibility of a partial scholarship.
Cars were another passion of mine and I was enjoying learning and working on all sorts of vehicles but in September of ’09 that all came to a crunching halt. What started, as a typical day at work would soon prove to be like no other. It was a regular day at the shop, and on the agenda after lunch was bringing 2 vehicles down to the scrap yard to demolish them. Due to some technical difficulties I ended up being the first to be pushed, in my vehicle up onto the weigh-in scale by a Bobcat construction vehicle.
So I remained in the driver’s seat assuming that everybody around me knew what was going on. Big mistake! As the light that was once red turned green, giving me the signal that my weight had been taken and it was now safe to exit the scale. The bobcat then proceeded to come back on the scale and ever so gently pushed me back off of the scale. I was now rolling down the scales ramp and coasting in a slow roll before exiting the car. Then, all of a sudden, I saw the boom of the crane swinging around towards me. It happened so fast that before I knew it, I was pinned down in this old Buick with glass, and twisted metal surrounding me. The crane operator did not know I was in the car and he proceeded to drop his magnet of approximately 6 tons on the passenger side of the vehicle crushing the roof down to the seats. Upon impact I was knocked unconscious. The story doesn’t end there… I was then picked up about 12 feet in the air when the bobcat driver jumped out of his vehicle and yelled to his co-worker that there is a guy inside the car still. As if being crushed is not enough, I was dropped.
I suppose he panicked, but when I hit the ground I woke up, much to everybody’s surprise. After something like this you would not believe anybody inside of the car survived, but I did. First on the scene were the Fire Fighters and they went to work on the roof of the car only 6 inches away from my head. By this time I knew something was seriously wrong.
Kyle, a fellow employee that was in the car that was initially supposed to go first on the weigh-in scale was now supporting me as the Fire Fighters used the Jaws of Life. Everything hurt except for my legs. “I can’t feel my legs”, I said to Kyle! When I told him that, I could see that glossy look in his eyes that you get just before you are about to cry but he held it together, for me. At that very moment I knew my life was going to change forever. The firefighters covered me with a blue plastic tarp and used the Jaws of Life to cut off the roof of the car. My back was then stabilized with a back brace. They proceeded to remove me from the wreckage and stabilize me in an ambulance until a place was found for the air ambulance to land. At the hospital they discovered I broke my back at T11 and 12, broke 6 ribs, and had a minor fracture in my neck at C7. Last and the most shocking was the loss of both of my legs – I was devastated.
It has been just over two years since my injury and I am living a life that no one ever expects to live. Despite the many challenges I encounter each day that come with being a paraplegic, I am grateful for each and every one of them. Each challenge I encounter means I am alive and every one I overcome makes me a little bit stronger. Despite my prognosis of never being able to walk again, I am determined to do just that. Although it may not happen today, tomorrow, next week or even next year, I know it will happen and be one of many milestones in my new life that I live.