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Courage To Come Back: Physical rehabilitation winner fights for accessible communities

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to what happens to you that can make the difference between living and merely existing.

News1130’s series of Courage To Come Back profiles continues with a look at the winner in the physical rehabilitation category.

“I was thrown about 40 feet in the air. I landed on a rock the size of a baseball and broke my back,” recalls Kristine Stanbra.

“They found me 25 feet past the truck and they figured the truck rolled three times. But I landed on a rock the size of a baseball and it broke my spine but lucky for me, it only bent the spinal cord.”

After a devastating car crash, doctors told her she’d never walk again, never have children, and that 92 per cent of people with an injury like hers end up getting divorced.

But they didn’t count on her resolve.

“I’m a fighter, definitely a fighter, and of course, I wasn’t going to believe them, and I did learn how to walk again.”

“I’m not a pretty sight when I walk, but I do get from Point A to Point B, and I can usually figure out a way to get where I need to go,” she quips.

Nearly 35 years after her injury, her marriage is still going strong, and she also is the proud mother of two sons.

Stanbra has also become a powerful advocate for the disabled. “We were the first disabled needs committee ever formed and I actually sit on that committee to this day, after 30 years.”

“There were poles in the middle of sidewalks, so I coordinated a Building Accessible Communities seminar,” she remembers.

“We had every building inspector in the entire area in that room and we had people in wheelchairs there saying, ‘Look, you guys are not making these communities accessible.'”

She credits an incredible support system for keeping her going, and above all an unshakable positivity. “Absolutely never give up. You have to believe in yourself. You have to believe and you have to have hope and… here I am.”

Stanbra is humbled to be recognized for her Courage To Come Back.

“I like putting a smile on somebody’s face when they find out that there’s a service they didn’t know they could access or a disability tax credit that they didn’t know about, so yes, I am very truly honoured to have won this award.”

News1130 is a proud sponsor of the Courage To Come Back Awards, which will be handed out May 8th at the Vancouver Convention Centre.