Another story, shared in accordance with the "fair dealing" provisions, Section 29, of the Copyright Act.
NOTE: Sgt. Steve Daniel's experience will be aired on TSN at 11 a.m. Sunday (11 Mar 07) on a program called Bell Spirit of the Game. Former soldier adapts to life after spinal injury
Laura Stradiotto, Sudbury Star, 3 Mar 07Article link
From Afghanistan to a basketball court and college classroom, a Canadian military sergeant accepted a new mission in life after he was paralyzed in a parachuting accident.
Steve Daniel, 32, has since returned home to Hanmer and will retire later this month after 13 years in the Canadian Forces.
In June 2005, while demonstrating a free-fall parachuting method, Daniel damaged a vertebra that resulted in a serious spinal chord injury.
"I came in a little too fast and misjudged my landing," Daniel said from his home.
Last fall, he started studying business administration at Cambrian College, but has also learned to play basketball, among other sports, in his wheelchair.
Daniel is one of more than 300 soldiers who have suffered a disability since Canada arrived in Afghanistan in 2001.
Now, wounded soldiers are being recruited to compete in the 2010 Paralympic Games.
Together, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Paralympic Committee are spearheading the Soldier On program to raise money and purchase equipment for injured soldiers.
The program will help to speed up the rehabilitative process, reintegrate injured soldiers and increase their quality of life.
"With 42 deaths in Afghanistan, a lot of guys are coming back home with debilitating injuries," said Daniel.
After his accident, Daniel had his back reconstructed and was then sent to a civilian hospital for rehabilitation.
"It's not an easy adjustment," Daniel said about learning to manoeuvre a wheelchair.
"You basically have to learn how to live your life all over again." Daniel said at the time the military didn't have programs to help with his rehabilitation. Previous spending cuts meant the military didn't even have its own rehabilitation hospital, he said.
"It wasn't until I got to Sudbury that I started basketball" with the Rolling Thunder, Sudbury's wheelchair basketball team.
Daniel has to borrow a wheelchair each time he plays with the team, since purchasing a new chair would cost between $4,000 and $6,000.
Daniel hopes to benefit from grants available through the Soldier On program so he can take basketball and other sports to a new level.
Daniel and other injured soldiers will attend a summit in Ottawa later this May where they'll get the chance to meet Paralympic athletes who will introduce them to competitive sports.
During his military career, Daniel received a gold medal in a competition displaying his skills and he is looking forward to the day he'll be able to compete again.
Daniel entered the Canadian Forces after graduating from high school in Levack. His first peacekeeping mission was in the conflict zone of Croatia in 1994. He accepted two tours to Bosnia and in 2003 spent six months in Kabul.
"Kabul at that time was not so bad," he said. "There were a couple incidents of suicide bombings, but we were working with the Afghan police in patrolling the city."
Daniel was part of the first mission in the country's capital city and, tragically, two men from his regiment, Sgt. Robert Alan Short, 42, of Fredericton, and Cpl. Robbie Christopher Beerenfenger, 29, of Ottawa, died in a land-mine explosion in October 2003.
"It's a hard life being in the military, especially with a family - I have a four-year-old son," he said.
The same year, Daniel was sent to Afghanistan, his son, Owen, was born and he missed the first few months of his boy's life.
Today, Daniel is optimistic about family and his new direction. He built a wheelchair-accessible home and last fall moved his family from Petawawa to Hanmer.
In January, he was invited to Vancouver to learn sit skiing.
"It was awesome," he said. "I picked it up pretty quick." email@example.com
Sgt. Steve Daniel's experience will be aired on TSN at 11 a.m. Sunday on a program called Bell Spirit of the Game.
To donate to the Soldier On program, go to http://www.paralympic.ca
and click on the "Soldier On" icon.