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Dr. Steve Daniel, Sgt (Retired)
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Dr. Steve Daniel, Sgt (Retired)

I grew up in northern Ontario, and joined the Army in 1993. For 14 years, I proudly served with the Royal Canadian Regiment, including tours in Croatia, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

I worked as a paratrooper for most of my career. As an Airborne soldier, you strive everyday to give your best. It was a rugged lifestyle that was very challenging, but incredibly rewarding.

In 2005, I was making a freefall parachute jump when something went terribly wrong. As I approached my landing I gained too much speed and landed on my tailbone, suffering a spinal cord injury that left me paralyzed from the waist down. At that point, I truly thought my life was over. I could not have been more wrong.

It wasn’t until I started getting active again that I realized there is life after injury. I connected early with
Soldier On and was the first recipient of adaptive sports equipment. Soldier On sent me to Mt. Washington on Vancouver Island to try sit-skiing. It was this experience, early in my recovery, that really opened my eyes to the power of sport. Conquering Mt. Washington in a sit-ski became a symbolic event for me. I realized disability should not limit me from achieving great heights.

I was introduced to competitive sport at the Paralympic Sport Summit hosted by Soldier On in 2007. I quickly set my sights on becoming a Paralympian. Just two short years after my injury, I was able to make the National Adaptive Rowing Team and competed at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. Once again, I found myself proudly representing our country – this time, wearing a new uniform.

I credit my early involvement with sport as the most important factor in my rehabilitation. The fitness I gained has allowed me to live a fully engaged life as a father, husband, and student. I no longer compete in sport but remain active by playing basketball, rowing and weight training. I’ve recently graduated from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and will be specializing in Family Medicine. I hope to encourage my patients to maintain an active lifestyle.

My involvement with Soldier On was the stepping stone I needed to move forward with my life. To other ill and injured personnel, I offer this advice: As Canadian Armed Forces members, you understand what it is to be pushed to your physical and mental limits. I encourage you to draw on the strength and courage you once used in service of our country – use this strength to maximize your abilities, and find new ways to Soldier On.

Steve Daniel, Sgt (Retired) 
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