‘If I can do it, you can do it’

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - TORONTO —

In the 14 years since his father be­came a com­plete para­plegic in a hunt­ing ac­ci­dent, Kevin Rem­pel has had to over­come im­mense per­sonal ad­ver­sity.

Now the for­mer Cana­dian sledge hockey player is shar­ing his ex­pe­ri­ences in an emo­tional book.

Rem­pel’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy “Still Stand­ing,” re­leased July 15 on Ama­zon.com, chron­i­cles his de­bil­i­tat­ing in­jury, fam­ily tragedy and the achieve­ment of play­ing for his coun­try at the Sochi Par­a­lympics.

“When I look through this book, I think there’s a lot of heavy chap­ters, there’s a lot of raw (stuff ) in here,” Rem­pel said re­cently at a down­town Toronto café. “But that is what it is. I could not write my book lightly. I could not write it and pre­tend it was easy. I could not tell my story and give you the per­cep­tion that I didn’t have im­mense hur­dles to over­come.”

In 2006, Rem­pel crashed his mo­tocross bike while at­tempt­ing to jump a 75-foot gap be­tween two ramps. He suf­fered a bro­ken back, frac­tured pelvis and a few frac­tured ribs. Doc­tors told him he would never walk again.

Fol­low­ing months of re­cov­ery and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, he started to slowly walk. One year to the day of his ac­ci­dent, Rem­pel, now 33, jumped back on a dirt bike to cel­e­brate.

Two weeks after his mo­ment of cel­e­bra­tion, how­ever, Rem­pel would be faced with yet another chal­lenge. His father Ger­ald, who was heav­ily de­pressed due to his own in­jury, took his own life after con­tem­plat­ing sui­cide on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.

Writ­ing that chap­ter stands out as be­ing par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult.

“I want to make it in­cred­i­bly clear for peo­ple to know that (sui­cide) is not the an­swer to your prob­lems, there is a way out, be­cause I’ve got to that low point of do­ing what my dad did on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions.”

Rem­pel’s con­tin­ued re­cov­ery led him to sledge hockey, which he picked up play­ing in 2008. He worked his way onto the Cana­dian na­tional team fol­low­ing the 2010 Par­a­lympics in Van­cou­ver and won a gold medal at the 2013 world cham­pi­onships.

At the Sochi 2014 Par­a­lympics, Rem­pel, who was born in St. Catharines and now lives in Toronto, tied for sec­ond in team scor­ing with six as­sists as Canada cap­tured bronze.

He played one more year in 2014-15, but didn’t make the Cana­dian ros­ter this past sea­son.

“I was con­vinced that I was never go­ing to go play another sea­son after Sochi,” Rem­pel said. “I felt like I had ac­com­plished what I wanted to in what I thought would be my ca­reer.”

Rem­pel, who plans on writ­ing three more books, said the mes­sage he wants to por­tray in “Still Stand­ing” is to “never give up, and if I can do it, you can do it.”

RYAN MCKENNA, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Kev­inRem­pel’s bookchron­i­cles his de­bil­i­tat­ing in­jury,fam­ily tragedy and Sochi achieve­ment.

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