VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Don’t be afraid to speak up. That’s a piece of advice the subject of our first Courage To Come Back profile wished he received before a life-changing car crash more than 20 years ago.
“My whole world came crashing down,” admits John Westhaver, the recipient of the 2017 award in the Physical Rehabilitation category. “I was very angry, I was upset, I was pissed off, and I was just really scared.”
Westhaver was 18 years old when his life changed forever. A sudden car crash left him with burns to three-quarters of his body and the three friends who were in the car with him dead, including the driver.
“When I woke up, I was in shock, because I didn’t know where I was at. I looked around the room, I was in a hospital room, I could barely move, I was really groggy and I had all kinds of questions like ‘Where am I at?’, ‘Where are my friends?’, ‘Where’s my family?’.
It took him a long time to come to terms with the loss of his friends and his permanent injuries. Part of Westhaver’s recovery came in the form of public speaking and sharing his story with young people, which he continues to do to this day.
“I love doing that, I love giving back,” he says. “I guess that’s kind of the type of kid I was growing up… It makes me feel good.”
As for his Courage To Come Back Award, he couldn’t be more proud.
“I don’t do the motivational speaking and the work that I do to get awards, but it’s really super awesome to get it and it means a lot to me because it’s…reassurance that I’m doing good in the world.”
His main message: speak up if something doesn’t seem right. It’s advice he wished he received on the day that would change his life.
“The main takeaway is…things go sideways fast and you can’t undo things that happen and you can’t say sorry enough to fix what happened,” he explains.
“I was that teenager in that car drinking and our driver was speeding…and I didn’t speak up and look what happened to me and my friends.”
NEWS 1130 is a proud sponsor of the Courage To Come Back Awards, which will be handed out Tuesday, May 16th at the Vancouver Convention Centre.