Mark Hoogendoorn, MCpl
Support Stories

Mark Hoogendoorn, MCpl

Let me first say that I continue to serve as a Combat Engineer despite my injury. 

I lost my left leg in Afghanistan back on 31 July 2010 while conducting a search for Improvised Explosive Devices. After numerous surgeries in Afghanistan, Germany and Ottawa, I found myself in rehab at the Ottawa Rehab Centre.

While in rehab, I was approached by a military member who suggested I speak with Soldier On. Before I could reach out to them, a Soldier On representative stopped in at the rehab centre to meet a few of us that had been injured around the same time. After speaking with them and my medical team, I was quickly convinced that I should put my name in for the Soldier On ski camp at Mount Washington, British Columbia. I was amazed to see what the Soldier On team had put together along with the Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive SnowSports. Myself and other injured military members were shown how to achieve all of the things we thought we could no longer do.

I had never snowboarded in my life but I thought, “Hey, why not, it’s not like I have anything to compare it to. I was hooked, and by the end of the week I had found my new winter sport.

Since then, I have been fortunate to attend other activities and Soldier On has showed me my potential and helped me look past what I saw as a major disability. Every year I continue to improve my skills and now have adaptive coaches at home. I have also been fortunate enough to spend time with a Paralympic recruiter and I hope to be part of the Canadian Paralympic Snowboard Team, one day.

The support didn’t stop there! Soldier On also introduced me to the game of golf, which is another sport I had never played, but always wanted to. After attending a golf camp, I knew I had found my summer sport. I feel fortunate to have been chosen to represent Soldier On as part of the first group of Canadians at the St. Andrews Legacy golf camp in Scotland. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to play golf on the prestigious Old Course in St Andrews and many other amazing courses in Scotland.

Soldier On has been nothing short of amazing and a huge part of my recovery. It has also been an integral part in helping me to return to full active duty with the Canadian Armed Forces.

MCpl Mark Hoogendoorn
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