Finding the New You
A jaunt down a ski slope is a moment in C. John Stachina’s life that he‘ll never forget. “I could tell I was going to hit one of the landscape timbers,” he recalls. He was going down a run he had done previously, but this time in poor lighting. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is going to hurt.’”
An athlete his entire life, the crash challenged his identity. “I wrapped my back around that pole, shattering the vertebrae in my lower thoracic and upper lumbar spine and completely severing the spinal cord,” says Stachina, 42, a T5 para from Plymouth, Minn. “I was no longer C. John the ski instructor, C. John the bike racer, C. John the inline speed skater or C. John the soon-to-be airline pilot.”
“Once I was discharged to live with my parents, that was when the really dark months started,” he says. “I had no sense of how I was ever going to make anything of my life, and no comprehension of who would ever want me like this.” However within months of his injury, he became invigorated thinking of one thing only — returning to work.
“Work gave me an opportunity to contribute again, and in a way I had contributed prior to my accident, with no ‘expectations discount’ because I was now living with a disability.” Stachina returned to his job as a market research analyst with a medical supply manufacturer within a year after his skiing accident.
He’s now moved on to creating the products himself. A passionate dog lover who credits his dog Sam for helping him get over his “woe is me” outlook, Stachina created the Hound-about, a hands-free dog walking system for wheelchair-users. He also created a hands-free rigid carrier he’s dubbed the Utilitote.