Rich Vander Wal is a para athlete, recreation therapist, keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and an inspiration to all. In this episode, Rich tells us his story of transformation after having experienced a traumatic Spinal Cord Injury in 1992, which resulted in complete T4 Paraplegia. These days Rich is a Recreation Therapist and Founder of Neurocore Physiotherapy, a rehab centre for individuals with neurological conditions, a father and family man, an elite athlete, and keynote speaker helping people find fulfillment in their lives. Rich’s story epitomizes human resilience and being able to reclaim your life after suffering a life-changing accident.
After suffering a complete T4 paraplegia in a motorcycle accident, Rich’s whole world was shaken. His whole life suddenly had to change as he embarked on a journey on learning how to live a fulfilled life after the accident. After spending months in rehab learning to work his body in new ways, and learning to use his new equipment, Rich found himself again in sports and athletics - albeit now he had to also redefine training as a para athlete. Rich got involved in just about as many sports as he could - rowing, tennis, cycling, swimming, skiing, and mountain biking. Sport and athletics is still an essential part of Rich’s life. Rich has represented Canada in rowing, tennis, and alpine skiing and is currently training for a triathlon event.
Rich became a recreation therapist and advocate for people who have suffered serious injury or medical conditions after being inspired by his own rehab team. Now he is the inspiration to many others and strives to show people how it is possible to reclaim your life after a massive change.
The Person Rich brings a unique approach to Neurocore as he designed and built much of the space to reflect a calming, non-traditional atmosphere where someone with a neurological condition will have the opportunity to exercise in an accessible, warm and friendly environment. Having experienced a traumatic Spinal Cord Injury in 1992, which resulted in complete T4 Paraplegia, Rich brings a wealth of personal life experiences to individuals living with a neurological condition and the challenges that may accompany this life change. Re-evaluating his personal values led him to Brock University where he was a recipient of the prestigious Price Waterhouse Coopers Gold Medal for Entrepreneurial Excellence in 1998. He graduated with a Bachelor of Recreation and Leisure Studies in 1999 and went on to attain an Honour’s post-graduate certificate in Therapeutic Recreation from Georgian College in 2000. In 2013, Rich was awarded the Georgian College Board of Governors Distinguished Alumni Award. As a qualified Recreation Therapist at Neurocore, Rich can help you to enhance your mobility skills further or work with you to develop new skills in an activity or sport of your choice. The Professional Working as a Recreation Therapist for 5 years at Toronto Rehab. Institute, Lyndhurst Centre, he worked to re-establish the “Outdoor Cottage Program”, lead the “Community Integration” Program and created a new “Get Outside” program to allow clients the opportunity to develop skills and increased confidence when using their new mobility aids. Rich still continues to assist clients and therapists with development of practical skills to enhance function and Quality of Life. Rich’s dual interest for providing education and acting as a resource for customized seating and competitive sports equipment encouraged him to seek a position at Motion Specialties in 2006. He currently continues part time in this role as an educator and sales consultant with a focus on adaptive sports. Rich’s unique teaching ability and life experience is an inspiration to anyone who attends his talks. He has been pivotal in providing education series a
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