Our story would be so different without either of these organizations.
In 2018, while working as a welder, a crane broke and dropped a 7,000-pound beam on my body. I was lucky to survive, but it broke my leg and all my ribs, bruised my heart, punctured my lung, broke my vertebrae, and severed my spinal cord.
The first responders were shocked I had survived and rushed me to emergency at Kelowna General Hospital where I was so fortunate to have 5 separate specialists all working on different parts of my body simultaneously. My heart kept stopping, but the team was able to keep me alive and finish the most vital surgeries. If they hadn’t all been available here in Kelowna, my story would likely have had a very different ending.
After I was stabilized, I stayed at KGH for a few months. They had to keep operating and grinding out my vertebrae so there was room for my spinal cord to swell, this prevented it from severing completely. The team was able to miraculously save some of my spinal connections, so I am now an incomplete paraplegic with very limited use of my lower body.
When the accident happened in August, my wife Karla was home with our 6-month-old son and 2-year-old daughter. In the following 6 months, I only got to see my kids once which was incredibly hard. When I finally went home in February, my wife and I were really struggling in our own ways.
I was in so much physical pain, had PTSD, and had to adapt to life with limited abilities in a wheelchair. I couldn’t work or continue with my active hobbies. I had lost my independence and wasn’t comfortable leaving the house. My wife, who had postpartum depression even before the accident, had to help me while doing everything for our two young kids. I hated not being able to help her and found out later she had hit rock bottom emotionally while I was in the hospital.
During my time away, the one thing that helped her was visiting the Kelowna Family Y. She had started bringing our kids to swim and visit Family Play Time 5 days a week just to get out of the house. She told me it provided her an enormous sense of support and relief, and that it was my family's new happy place - which is still true to this day.
After staying home for months, I started getting used to life in a wheelchair. When I mustered the courage to try venturing out, the first place I went to was the Y with my family. It was so accessible, and I felt joy being able to play with my family in the pool and the play program. My wife was so proud to show me around. It made me so happy to see her and the kids just beaming.
I started rehab in the pool with my physical therapist and felt a huge sense of relief in the water. When I started driving, the first place I took my kids on my own was the Y as I knew it was accessible and the staff would help if I needed it. My kids have grown up at the Y and we have so many great family memories in this place.
Now it’s been 5 years since the accident. I am still in pain but can navigate life in my chair. I am so thankful for the KGH team and all the tools and equipment they have access to, I truly feel it’s what saved my life and some of my abilities. I am also grateful to the Y for helping with my family's mental health, and for providing an accessible place for us to recover, connect, and play again. Our story would be so different without either of these organizations.
Many success stories like Vince and Karla's are made possible through the help of the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation and the YMCA of Southern Interior BC. The Lake Life Lottery is the only local dream home lottery to benefit mental, physical and social wellness in our communities. Funds raised through the lottery will support the YMCA and KGH Foundation.