It was a day like all others for retired sergeant Steve Daniel. As a Military Freefall Parachute Instructor in the Canadian Forces, Daniel was preparing for a free fall jump. He had done this feat 101 times before, but his next jump would change his life forever.
During his 102nd jump, something went terribly wrong. As he approached his landing he gained speed. Unable to slow his descent, he landed on his tailbone; the impact left him paralyzed from the waist down.
“I thought my life was over when I was paralyzed,” recalls Daniel. “It is difficult in the beginning to comprehend a happy life after a traumatic injury, but thanks to Soldier On I was able to discover a new lease on life.”
Soldier On empowers retired and serving members of the Canadian Forces with a visible or non-visible injury or illness to accept their new normal by adopting an active lifestyle through participation in physical, recreational or sporting activities.
This lifestyle behavioural change helps them to develop new skills, build confidence in their abilities and realize their full potential. Many veterans with an illness or injury, like Daniel, credit Soldier On with helping them to overcome their challenges and open doors to other life opportunities.
“Since my injury I have represented Canada proudly as a member of the 2008 Canadian Paralympic Team and I am currently studying to become a physician at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine,” explains Steve. “My involvement with Soldier On was the stepping stone I needed to move forward with my life.”
The program has supported more than 450 ill and injured veterans with such things as hand-cycles, sporting equipment, event registration and training expenses. This is possible through funding from the Department of National Defence and generous donations to the Soldier On Fund by Canadians, Canadian Forces units and formations, small businesses, corporations, and foundations. The Royal Canadian Legion has provided more than $20,000 in funding to Soldier On.
Soldier On has also supported more than 100 national and international events that enable ill and injured veterans to learn to ski, ride and groom horses, fly-fish, waterski and kayak among other activities, including training and competing against ill and injured soldiers from other Allied nations. When added all together, Soldier On becomes an integral part of the recovery of all ill and injured veterans.
To learn more about how to participate, visit the website www.SoldierOn.ca or join the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SoldierOnSanslimites.