Live It! Love It! and CLIF Bar presented the Golden CLIF bar – an $1000.00 award to help fuel the winner’s next adventure to Ethan Krueger during our Freewheel Adventure Camp in August. A vote by the peers and key volunteers at the camp determined that Ethan, the 22 year old from south Surrey BC most embodied the Live It! Love It! values and was the most inspirational participant. Read on to hear Ethan’s Story and find out what he is doing with the money…
Read Ethan’s Story Below:
“My name is Ethan Krueger and I just had my 22nd birthday.
I have lived all my life on a farm in South Surrey with my family. This made for some incredible memories. My brother is a year younger and we grew up doing everything together. There were not a lot of other kids around to play with so we made our own fun on the farm. I was told that I was born running and that I never stood still.
Life was great on the farm. We had a fort built in almost every tree on the property, learned to ski while being towed by calves in the winter, had ramps pushed up all over the pastures and jumps over creeks. We reinvented sports to make them more challenging.
We lived on a hill and built a modified skateboard where we could lie down on it and race down the road. The trick was staying on to avoid road rash and injury and to have postings along the road to stop traffic because we had not ever considered a way to stop the board once we got going. A few years ago I heard of a new sport they called long-boarding. Well, I guess we were just a little before our time.
I started out with a Honda 50 motorbike and I built my way up to a KZ450 racing dirt bike. My parents eventually took us snow skiing at Seymour where we found out that cows were not an integral part of downhill skiing. I played soccer at rep level for 11 years and ran long distance track during school. I received my certificate in scuba diving and have participated in many dives on the west coast but my best memory was a diving vacation with some friends to Bonaire, an island off the coast of Venezuela. I also liked downhill mountain biking, frequenting Whistler’s runs in the summer. I always enjoyed the outdoors and went camping and fishing every chance I got. I got my certification in firearms and added hunting when I went camping. I love everything outdoors.
Summer 2010. I was on a downhill mountain bike run on the Sunshine Coast, trying out my new bike, when a jump went really bad. My friend with me had to ride out of the park to get cell reception to call 911. He was asked to remain at the roadside to guide them in but I was unconscious when he left me to get help and we were in the middle of bear and cougar country. So he left his bike at the trail head and stripped gear and clothing marking the way as he ran back to me waiting for the EMT’s to arrive. I was airlifted by helicopter to VGH and had surgery for my broken back within hours.
I have a T8-9 injury from a pile-driving head on collision with the jump. My spinal cord was not severed but the vertebrae were broken and crushed and they glued and screwed me all back together. I have 2 long rods screwed into both sides of my spine for support. I also had a nasty concussion but would have been killed if I had not been wearing my helmet.
While in rehab, I got to test the limits of my wheelchair. There are great people at GF Strong. I also met a lot of my new friends. I had to consider what to do when I got out. I was a journeyman carpenter by trade, just got my certification a week before my accident. When I was released from rehab, I made an appointment with the largest construction company in Vancouver to find out what prospects I had in the construction industry from my chair. PCL was so helpful and arranged a meeting with 7 of their employees to help me find direction for my future in construction. I used their suggestions to pursue the BCIT Architecture Building and Engineering Technology course. I needed two pre-requisite courses which I started last January and completed in June. I was accepted for the ABET course at BCIT and just started on September 5th. In 2 years I will receive my degree and be able to continue my career in building and construction.
I needed to get back on the road so I got my modified driver’s license last January and had my truck refitted with hand controls.
I still love my sports. Since my accident, I have been up in a glider, gone sailing, had a season of sledge hockey and sit skiing. I got my modified hunting license so that I can shoot from a vehicle and went hunting last November. The deer were as safe as in God’s packet though. Never got a peek at a buck. I had my legs taped down to my KZ450 and went for a ride but jumping proved to be a little challenging. I purchased a Razor with hand controls to keep up with my friends when they went riding. We went dune busting this summer down the Oregon coast. I’ve gone jet skiing and kayaking and am looking forward to getting back into scuba diving. I’ve gone downhill riding on a 4-x and love it. My highlight so far would have to be the bungee jumping at Whistler though. Totally rad!
My accident has changed my life a lot. Some things have become more challenging for sure but it has forced me to be more creative to continue in some of my passions. There really isn’t too much I’m not able to do now that I did before my accident. It’s just that it takes me a little longer for some things but life can still be a good and exciting ride. I was doing what I enjoyed doing when I had my accident. Extreme sports have extreme consequences. Most of us know the risks, and I, like most, didn’t think it would happen to me. But it has and now it’s my choice how I face my future. Life doesn’t begin or end with legs, or with any physical disability. It’s what you determine in your heart to make of it. My faith helps me with the strength to be an overcomer. I want to spend my life encouraging others to aim high and reach for their dreams.
I was so surprised to receive the Golden Clif Award at Live It! Love It! I was having so much fun and was so grateful to be included in the weekend. Being recognized by my peers was such an honor. I am going to be donating the $1000 to Wheelchair Foundation. They recondition used wheelchairs and donate them to paraplegics and quadriplegics in third world countries who cannot afford wheelchairs. They provide one wheelchair for every $50 donation. The Golden Clif Award will provide 20 chairs and get them to those who need them the most.”