It was a bright sunny morning when Tapestry resident, MJ, crossed the finish line of the 2022 Vancouver Sun Run. Although it was the shorter version of the iconic Vancouver event, it might as well have been a marathon journey for MJ.
Thirty years ago, after a life-changing vehicle crash, MJ was told she would never walk again. In completing that course and in everything she does each day, MJ proves that anything is possible and encourages others to pursue their goals with her same fearless approach to living life.
“The accident has never stopped me from participating in the things I enjoy in life,” says MJ. “You have to keep on keeping on.”
In Spring 1999, MJ was driving through an intersection when a semi-trailer with an 80,000-pound load sped through a red light and crashed into her car. She spent nine months in hospital, five weeks of which were spent in a coma.
When MJ awoke, she was told she would never walk again. This was a painful reality as her life to that point had been filled with playing many sports, such as fast pitch softball and volleyball. Having been a determined competitor for most of her life, MJ was unwilling to accept her prognosis and was determined to focus on her recovery by learning to walk again. She was eager to return to those things she most loved, including raising her two beloved daughters.
“I just never accepted that I would not be able to return to doing those things I love most,” says MJ. “I knew the road to recovery would be difficult, but I had no idea what the future would hold.”
MJ began her recovery at the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. It was a grueling experience where progress wasn’t always measured in a straight line. Some days were glorious with clear steps forward, while others could bring fear and self-doubt. However, by working with a team of Occupational Therapists, after seven months, MJ was able to walk out of the centre on her own, achieving the goal she set early in her recovery process.
MJ moved into Tapestry in 2018. One of the many reasons for choosing Tapestry was its focus on wellness and because the community uniquely hires professional kinesiologists that develop and deliver wellness programming for residents. As well, MJ particularly enjoys the food served at Tapestry and chooses to eat almost every meal in the Restaurant. MJ enjoys Tapestry’s Wesbrook Village location as it allows her to ride her three wheeled bicycle around UBC’s campus, daily.
“Tapestry is the complete deal,” says MJ. “The community offers amazing food, excellent workout classes and one-on-one personal training. I work out six days a week, attending both fitness classes and personal training. I also attend art classes twice a week.”
Since moving into Tapestry, MJ has worked with the wellness team and continues to participate in a variety of activities, including her favourite Balance and Bands Class and Balloon Volleyball.
With the support of Rachel Pidgeon, Wesbrook’s Kinesiologist, MJ set her sights on participating in the Vancouver Sun Run. After joining the Ride to Conquer Cancer with Tapestry, this was one of the next goals MJ set her sights on.
Rain or shine MJ and Rachel began weekly training walking one hour three times a week. The goal was to not only see how far MJ could walk, but also being competitive in nature, to beat her previous time!
“Walking still requires my full concentration,” says MJ. “I am always thinking just one foot in front of the next to keep me moving forward. It’s not until after the walk that I can sit down and relax and really think about what I just accomplished.”
After months of training, MJ and Rachel together challenged the 2.5 km Vancouver Sun Run course. It was an emotional moment as MJ crossed the finish line with purpose and pride as they were cheered on by fellow Tapestry residents and employees. MJ’s inspiring achievement was even captured by Global News Television.
“It was a special moment to get to go on television,” says MJ. “I felt very accomplished and proud, and I knew that this was something my children would see on TV.”
MJ’s continued passion to embrace life and face all the challenges that may happen along the way, has been an inspiration to many at Tapestry. “If I can do this…anyone can,” says MJ, who remains focused on finding her next significant challenge!