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Toronto man beaten, left for dead on Thailand beach shares story of resilience

WATCH ABOVE: Chris Channon was mugged, beaten, and left for dead on a beach in Thailand in August 2014. As a result of the attack, Chris was paralyzed and told by doctors he would never walk again. On Oct. 20, Chris will be walking the five-kilometre race of the Toronto Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon to raise money for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario. Susan Hay has the story.

Chris Channon knew how to live.

A former business owner running two construction companies, living a comfortable life, yet Channon always felt something was missing.

He decided to dedicate his life to giving back and moved to help in Africa and Southeast Asia. Then on Aug. 14, 2014, while vacationing in Thailand, Channon was taking a walk on the beach when everything changed.

“I was approached by a local person, I turned my head and literally that was the last thing I remember,” said Channon.

READ MORE: How virtual reality and computer algorithms helped a paralyzed man walk again

Channon was mugged, beaten and left for dead.

“I remember waking up staring at the stars, lying on the beach, and having no idea really what happened to me,” said Channon.

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Channon could hear the sea, but was not sure if the tide was coming in or going out. He panicked thinking he was going to drown unable to move his limbs, he called for help until he lost his voice.

“Finally a couple from New Zealand had come by,” Channon recalled. “I was begging them to help me, get some help do anything. So the man ran to get the local police and the woman stayed with me.”

Channon was taken to a local clinic on the island before being transferred to hospital.

“I was finally given a MRI and CT Scan. The local doctor said to me ‘your chances of survival are very thin.’ He also said ‘I have to do this surgery, but you will probably never walk again,’” Channon said.

READ MORE: Canada’s health-care system isn’t designed for parents with disabilities: experts

After one month, he returned to Canada and was taken to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre where he met a peer support coordinator for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, providing support and services to people with spinal cord injuries.

“Being able to help somebody else, is what organizations like Spinal Cord Injury Ontario is all about. They helped me to understand and that’s why peer support is so near and dear to my heart,” said Channon.

“I’m now a peer support volunteer and have been able to give back and in turn help others to do the same.”

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On Oct. 20, 2019, Channon is taking on the Scotiabank Charity Challenge five km race, raising funds and awareness for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario. It’s his way of giving back to the charity in appreciation for all of the support he received on his journey to recovery.

Channon has a donation page set up for the upcoming race here.