Chris Stoutenberg fractured three thoracic vertebrae falling from his friend’s balcony on June 18, 1997. Paralyzed from the waist down, “Stouty” woke up with metal rods in his spine and a huge hole in his life: Sports, at which he’d always excelled, seemed gone forever. He was 19. Despite the injury, Stoutenberg fought to recover, copying the exercises of more “advanced” rehabilitation patients he saw in his therapy sessions. By September 1997, he was back in school.

After a year at the University of Guelph, he was offered a Division 1 scholarship for wheelchair basketball at the University of Illinois, where he played for three years. He won a gold medal at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia, on the Canadian Men’s National Team, and another in 2004 in Athens, Greece.

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