Because rehabilitation helped Chris go the extra mile

As the sun set on a chilly November evening you could feel the excitement in the air. Chris Fraser was about to embark on her section of the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay. Surrounded by cheering crowds, the Rick Hansen team, and the flashing lights of police escorts, Chris wheeled down Wellington and Commissioners Roads. At rush hour. In the dark. It’s not the first challenging situation she has overcome.

Chris Fraser preparing for the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay
Chris Fraser is surrounded by colleagues, family and friends as she prepares for her section of the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay.

Chris injured her spinal cord in 1988 when she was swept off an ocean-side cliff by a rogue wave while traveling in South Africa. After rehabilitation for the injury at Parkwood Hospital, she returned to university and completed her degree in nutrition, then began working as a registered dietitian in Parkwood’s Rehabilitation program. “My role allows me to provide support and mentorship to people who have recently become spinal cord injured and their families,” says Chris.

When the Parkwood’s Spinal Cord Injury team was approached by the Rick Hansen Institute to select a medal-bearer for the relay, they didn’t hesitate to recommend Chris. “Her determination, courage, and integrity have inspired many with a spinal cord injury to fully live their lives,” says SCI coordinator Julie Gagliardi.

Chris is a tireless community advocate for promoting awareness and prevention of spinal cord injury. She spearheaded the Possibilities Project which raises funds for equipment and medical supplies for people in the community who have a spinal cord injury and need financial support. She is also an adapted fitness instructor for the seated aerobics class at Parkwood’s Fitness Centre for people with a disability.

London is one of the foremost hubs of Rick Hansen Institute-funded projects. Chris is a member of the team at Parkwood Hospital where researchers and clinicians work together on research initiatives that improve wellness and quality of life for people with spinal cord injury and disability.

“Keeping a positive perspective on life, and making the right choices when confronted with obstacles make all the difference in the world to your quality of life,” says Chris.

Shirley Talsma uses weights to work on her arm strength
During their stop in London, the Rick Hansen Relay Team took time out from their 12,000 kilometre journey to visit with patients and staff in the Spinal Cord Injury unit at Parkwood Hospital. Here they share a light moment with Shirley Talsma while she uses weights to work on her arm strength.

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