For nearly two decades, the Courage to Come Back awards have recognized those who recover from severe challenges through extraordinary courage and character.
Now entering its 17th year, the award ceremony, which is presented by Coast Mental Health, will take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre on May 7.
Six people will be recognized in the following categories: Addiction, Medical, Mental Health, Physical Rehabilitation, Social Adversity and Youth. Global News will be airing each of their stories in the six days before the event.
Physical Rehabilitation – John Hedderson
Ask John Hedderson about his lifelong health battles and he’ll tell you his secret for coping is honesty and a sense of humour.
“I’ve been dead,” he says, then adds that now “I’m not.”
The Campbell River man has suffered through too many illnesses for one lifetime, starting with childhood diabetes. Later in life he suffered a stroke and fell victim to aphasia, a rare language disorder that forced him to learn to read, write and speak again.
Hedderson says the loves of his life saved him–his wife Pam and music.
Pam suggested he should perform with a local theatre group. When the music started, everything came out exactly as he had planned.
“The next thing I know, I’m dancing, singing in front of 350 people without missing a beat,” said Hedderson.
His health struggles aren’t over. He deals with chronic pain, but he says he starts each day making the choice to smile and laugh.
“With me I’m in a lot of pain all the time…whoop-de-do,” he said.
“When you’re suffering with things like that, you just laugh at yourself. I still keep ‘er going.”