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Former Bronco continues to pursue his Paralympic dream

Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki does muscles strengthening exercises during a physiotherapy session at the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – As the hockey world gathers to remember those lost in the Humboldt Broncos crash, one of the survivors is doing everything he can to pursue his new dream.

Airdrie hockey player Ryan Straschnitzki was in his first season with the Humboldt Broncos in 2018. He had previously played for the Whitecourt Wolverines of the AJHL but before that, he was already on the national stage.

Straschnitzki was a member of the Leduc Oil Kings who climbed to the top of the Alberta Midget Hockey League (AMHL) and all the way to the 2017 Telus Cup national championship.

His life and the lives of hundreds of others would change forever on April 6, 2018, when the Broncos bus crashed with a semi, claiming the lives of 16 people: his teammates, brothers, coaches and friends.

READ MORE: Straschnitzki family adjusting to new life one year after Humboldt crash

Although Ryan survived the crash, he was left paralyzed, with doctors giving little chance of him ever walking again.

But within moments of receiving that news, Ryan turned to his Dad and told him he wanted to make the Canadian Paralympic Sledge Hockey team. That dream has never died, 12 months after the tragic crash.

“I try and get in the gym when I can and kind of work on those muscle groups that stand up hockey players don’t work on as much as sledge hockey players,” says Straschnitzki.

Ryan is currently training at least three days a week, along with the support of his skills coach, former sledge hockey world champion, Chris Cederstrand. Ryan says their relationship has helped him to press on.

“He kind of knows the junior lifestyle and what hockey players are like so we kind of have similarities that way. He also started from scratch when he had his incident so he’s kind of teaching me what he had to do to get better and eventually make the Paralympic team.”

While Ryan admits the progress is moving well but there are always days of frustrations, times where he could easily give up, but that’s not an option for him.

He’s been encouraged to press on by his family, his friends, coaches and former teammates with the Broncos. He says the outpouring of support he continues to receive is outstanding.

“The support has just been wonderful and we can’t thank anyone enough. I think it helps everyone in a way.”