‘If I can do it, you can do it’
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.”
KevinRempel’s bookchronicles his debilitating injury,family tragedy and Sochi achievement.