PUBLIC SPEAKER AND SLEDGE HOCKEY COACH
"Strength doesn't come from what you can do,
it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't."
I grew up in Martensville, Saskatchewan. I was a very typical kid with an active childhood and loving family. I enjoyed all areas of athletics and had the drive, work ethic and determination to succeed in sport. Early into my teens I began playing higher level hockey, playing on a variety of teams before being drafted to the Red Deer Rebels. I played two years with Red Deer and then was traded to the Swift Current Broncos. I finished my WHL career with concussion problems and needed to look to pursue new dreams and challenges.
In 2004 I went to Fire School in Vermillion, Alberta. I graduated at the top of my class with a promising future ahead. I moved with my fiance to Calgary and began applying for a position as a firefighter. While waiting and interviewing, I took a position working road construction. At the age of 25, recently married, my life changed in a way no one would have ever expected.
While backing a large piece of Heavy Machinery uphill, the gears slipped and the packer began to roll down. After trying all the options to stop it and only after keeping the 30,000 kg machine away from harm's way, I jumped off. As I jumped the machine flipped with part of it catching my leg. During a life saving surgery, my leg was amputated above the knee, without my knowing. 16 days later I was sent home with little hope to recover on my own.
I was told; “everything happens for a reason,” and “look at the great things you can do now.” Easier said than done.
It took the next 4 years of trying to figure out how to proceed with life, while following every doctor’s recovery suggestion and being bumped along through the WCB process, I tried everything I could. This included heavy pain medication for two years that had no effect on the phantom pain, the nightmares and the inability to wear my prosthesis for more than an hour. During this time I was using very basic prosthetics that were not only a safety issue, but causing numerous falls and accidents, and were very restrictive in my ability to accomplish any of the goals I had set to accomplish. With incredible support from those around me, I got off the medication and began to put my life together again. I desperately wanted to be myself again, to be normal and do what I wanted to do without the limitations and challenges I now had to face. It was at this time that I had the mentality that "if I don't try, I won't ever know I can't." Meaning; how will I ever realize my true potential if I never choose to attain it. Luckily, I don’t know how to fail. Once I set my mind to it I will accomplish anything. Still mixing good days with bad, I taught myself how to skate and snowboard again, I tried paracyling and I kept pulling myself out of bed and pushing myself to get better.
It wasn't until the fall of 2011 that my life changed completely, I started to play sledge hockey with the Calgary Scorpions. Within months I was picked up by Team Canada's development program where I worked hard to challenge myself, improve my skills, and push my abilities to the absolute maximum. In 2014 I became captain of the development team and shortly after joined the mens National team. Even after numerous repeated shoulder injuries I was the first alternative for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Since then I have competed on the world stage at a number of international events, bringing home a silver medal at the 2015 World Championships.
Becoming a father that same year, as well as being offered a job once again as a firefighter, further pushed my motivation and drive to excel to new levels. The only thing standing in my way was the prosthetic! While telling my story to a local hockey team, an incredible group of ladies decided they would help fundraise to buy me the hundred thousand dollar prosthetic leg that would allow me to be active, safe, return to work as a firefighter, and be the father to my children that I wanted to be! Together with the support of family, friends and the community, I was able to purchase the leg I had dreamed of and has continued to conquer the world one challenge at a time!
"Chris is one of the most fearless, genuine, and inspiring people I've ever met. His story is incredible, and his passion to help and empower others leaves you speechless..."
-Brad Layzell, CEO PX3 Brain Science