Shawn Burnett

Turning a crisis into a challenge!

shawn burnett

On June 6, 2021, I had a serious accident during my first ever parachute jump. I’d just turned 18. A sudden strong wind caused me to crash land. The result: I broke my back, with a spinal cord injury, and became paralyzed from the hips down.

I spent the next three weeks at the hospital, where I had surgery to reset my bones and implant metal plates in my back. Then, I moved to the Institut de réadaptation Gingras-Lindsay-de-Montréal (IRGLM) for seven weeks.

Getting down to work

Every day, an occupational therapist showed me how to do new things in my day-to-day life: how to get around in a wheelchair, transfer myself to a chair, get dressed, navigate sidewalks in my wheelchair, and so on. A physiotherapist also helped me walk with long leg braces, use a walker, use an exoskeleton (a portable device that provides joint support), and more.

A stimulating setting

I wanted to keep active, so I often trained at the IRGLM gym. I met people there who were in similar situations. It was cool to hang out with them instead of being alone. Because we were going through the same thing, we motivated each other and shared tips we’d learned in rehabilitation.

I’m very grateful to the IRGLM. The unbelievable support I receive there helped turn a crisis into a personal challenge. Of course, I had to go through a mourning phase. But, with the help I received, I realized it was an opportunity to push my limits.

“I was quickly able to accept my new situation and move on.”

Embracing a new life

By supporting the REA Foundation, you, in your own way, are helping people adapt to a new life and embrace it despite their physical limitations. Thanks to the exceptional team at the IRGLM, I was quickly able to accept my new situation and move on.

It’s in that spirit that I threw myself into para ice hockey, which allowed me to pursue my passion for hockey. Barely a year after my accident, I was already a member of the Quebec and Canadian sledge hockey teams. And in May, I’ll be competing in the Canadian Championship in Montreal.

Shawn Burnett, 20 years old