A Light on the Road – On June 8, 1988 I was an enthusiastic and active 9-year-old living in North Vancouver, BC. As I often did, I agreed to help my friends (two sisters) deliver newspapers and then go to see my brothers play baseball. When we finished our newspaper delivery we got back on our bikes (the sisters were riding double) and headed to the baseball field. The three of us started out together but the sisters immediately went ahead of me. I found that in spite of riding hard I could not catch up with them. I eventually came to a two-way stop and looked only one way. An elderly lady in her car that was traveling west as I was riding south immediately hit me. She never saw me and I, along with my bike was pulled under her car and pinned beneath one of her tires. I was then dragged down the street over 60 feet until two guys got her to stop her car when they saw my feet, as she still did not realize that she had hit me, thinking the noise from under her car was a fallen muffler. Her car was then backed up so I was no longer underneath.
The accident took place only one block from my house, and neighbours hearing the crash called 911 and the ambulance arrived very quickly, along with the firefighters and police. I was found totally unconscious from the impact but still breathing and rushed to Lions Gate Hospital. My parents who were on vacation in New Brunswick; returned to be with me having been called by my Dad’s parents who were looking after us.
I was then transferred to BC Children’s Hospital and stayed there for 8 weeks for treatment and recovery. I had broken my shoulder, had several fractured bones and a lot of soft tissue damage in addition to a head injury. I had reconstruction work done to my face, and muscle and skin grafts to my shoulder. The skin for the grafts was taken from my upper right leg and put on my chest. Then in another grafting procedure they took skin from behind my ears to put on my face, which had been badly scraped from the dragging. I had to wear a Jobs vest and a Uvex mask for 18 months which I did without question, even though it was very hard.
My grandfather was there almost every day for me and my friends and parents came to visit me as much as they could. This was very important moral support and helped with my healing. I did lots of physiotherapy everyday and swam as much as possible, which helped me regain my strength and probably inspired my love of fitness today that includes running marathons.
When I got out of the hospital, the North Vancouver City fire fighters had a special day for me and made me “Fire Fighter of the Day”; giving all my family a tour of the fire hall.
Another part of the healing took place at Burn Camp. I started out first at the Burn Camp in Alberta with other burn survivors from British Columbia and got to take my first airplane trip. Then I luckily went on to the first Burn Camp in B.C. that now runs every summer, and I know that this was a big part of my recovery.
There was lots of press coverage about my accident including a story with CTV, so when I went back to school a video had been made to show all the kids in my class what had happened to me, and why I was wearing a mask. That understanding was really helpful to me as there is little education for kids around what it is to survive a burn trauma.
I am an active participant in The Future Is Mine program, and have presented my story and the video that was made for the school kids at one of the Peer Support Group Sessions. I also volunteer to help the firefighter’s put up the lights at Bright Nights in Stanley Park and have made many new friends through this program.
Recently, I had a very special and proud moment that happened to me “on the road”. I was honoured to carry the Olympic flame when it came to New Westminster for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and I will have that positive memory with me forever.
The Olympic Torch moment reminded me that light can be found everywhere to inspire us even in the darkest moments.