As a prairie farm boy of Métis lineage, John’s life centred on hunting, fishing, trapping, and roaming the countryside in which he lived. By the age of fourteen, he had grown into a tall, strong young man eager and willing to help on the farm and hunt wild game for his mother’s kitchen. Then, without warning, a crippling and brutal illness changed his life forever. After months of hospitalization and therapy, John returned to the farm with permanent paralysis of his left leg. After desperately trying and failing to overcome the loss, he accepted the reality that he would never take another normal step. From that point on, John never looked back.
In time John established a successful career, married and started a family, and acquired a pilot’s license and an airplane. Once again, misfortune struck. A fiery plane crash nearly took his life and resulted in further debilitation. As before, through sheer determination and strength of purpose, John managed to put his life back on track.
There would be further challenges to his life, marriage, and career, but a disastrous event in 1988 tested his endurance to the limit. For an error in judgment precipitated by complicated and tragic circumstances, John served five years in prison.
After his release, during a trip to Vietnam, John noticed with dismay the suffering of the disabled in that country. Those with handicaps were the poorest of the poor, without so much as a wheelchair, walker, or crutch to make their lives easier. Out of genuine concern and determination to make a difference, he returned to Canada and established the Global Disability Foundation. Since then, the foundation has shipped thousands of wheelchairs and mobility devices to third-world countries where they are distributed free to those in greatest need.
Today, at the age of seventy, John lives a quiet, modest life in Calgary, Alberta.