MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER, COACH, TEAM CANADA ALUMNI, ATHLETE AMBASSADOR, CONSULTANT
I grew up in Martensville, Saskatchewan. I was a typical kid with an active childhood and a 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 before being traded to the Swift Current Broncos. I finished my WHL career with concussion problems and needed 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. I was rushed to the hospital and taken into surgery in an attempt to save and repair the damage to my leg. Unfortunately, my femoral artery let go and 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.
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 and everything that was suggested to me. This included heavy pain medication for two years that had no effect on the phantom pain, the nightmares, or 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 causing numerous falls and accidents but were also very restrictive in my ability to accomplish any of the goals I had set to accomplish.
"Strength doesn't come from what you can do,
it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't."
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; if I try and fail, I will know I can’t but if I don’t try, I might always be able to. Luckily, that attitude didn’t last long and I was once again determined to do the impossible and once I set my mind to it I know I can 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 despite the challenges and kept pushing myself to get better.
I was told; “everything happens for a reason,” and “look at the great things you can do now.” Easier said than done.
In the fall of 2011 my life changed completely in two areas. The first one was that I became a father of a beautiful little girl and the second being that 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.
In 2014 another dream was accomplished. I was offered a job as a firefighter and was able to compete in the 2014 Fire Fit Challenge as the first above knee amputee in North America to compete. This further pushed my motivation and drive to excel to new levels. I trained and competed but continued to have trouble with the mobility options and wear time of my 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.
Since retiring in 2017 from sledge hockey, I started working with the PX3 AMP Hockey program in Calgary where I am the adaptive director at the hockey school. It is here that I started coaching a sledge program is completely free for kids with disabilities. While coaching this team, I was approached to assistant coach the Provincial Sledge Hockey team where we won 4 National Championships. My coaching passion continued as PX3 AMP and the Calgary Flames joined forces to create the firstCanadian NHL affiliated hockey team and attended the division one NHL Sled Classic.
Giving back to the community is a big part of being an athlete, what I value, and who I am. I am proud to work with Kidsport Calgary as an athlete ambassador which helps under privileged kids afford sport. I also have started the Cederstrand Foundation which helps people with disabilities purchase adaptive sports equipment. In 2022 we gave our first recipient a sled. This same year, this young lady was invited to play for Canada’s National Ladies Sled Program.
In 2022 I was recruited for a new TV show in Canada called “Canada’s Ultimate Challenge.” I was the only one with a physical disability and the first above knee amputee in Canada to compete on a reality show. Working with a team of 4 under the coach Donovan Bailey, I traveled around Canada competing in a variety of challenges. This was an incredible experience by means of trying things with my prosthetic that I have never tried before and meeting friends that I will cherish for life.
I have been honored to be named one of Shaw’s 50 Outstanding Canadians for my work in the community as well as named 2022 Air Canada’s Community Champion. I have also received a distinguished alumni award at Fire ETC and Lakeland College.