A sunny day in the Alps quickly turned into a nightmare. Seconds after falling, Daniel realizes that he will collide with a snowboarder. Then, everything goes dark.
It was March 2014 and Daniel Rehnström, then 25 years old, was on holiday with his family in the Italian Alps. When waking up after the collision, Daniel realizes he can’t breathe; his mouth is packed with snow. His mother anxiously bends over him, seeing his bruised face and ask how he feels. Daniel replies, "I can’t feel my legs."
"This is when my fear, strangely enough, turned into some kind of strength; my mother was terribly frightened and sad. I remember saying out loud, perhaps mostly to myself, that the body probably just in shock – I will be just fine"
Daniel with his friends and family.
After having spent a week in an Italian hospital, Daniel was flown back to Sweden. After another week and countless rounds of x-ray of the spine, it was clear that he had two broken vertebraes and Daniel was given the diagnosis of never being able to walk again.
"The extent of my situation had already hit me, I had begun to try to understand. But most of all, I had already decided; from here I will do everything I can to live a normal life, as normal as I possibly can. "
Back in the same, yet different life
Before the accident, Daniel worked as a pilot and was a popular, well thought of colleague. With a great passion for flight and a strong will to work, Daniel was back at work within only six months after the accident. This time as a flight engineer at a desk job, just as popular and well thought of as before, but mentally stronger. "It was important for me. Going to work felt normal, created a normal everyday routine. I think many people who are injured are afraid to go back and meet their colleagues again, for me it was necessary on my way back to a normal life. "
"I'm probably very goal-oriented. From the start, I have believed in that this will work. I can’t give up - I will be able to live a normal life again. "
Willpower of steel
A couple of weeks before leaving for the Italian Alps, Daniel remembers seeing a poster for the Wings for Life World Run 2014 and plans to participate. "I saw an ad for the race and thought it sounded like good fun. Ironically, as the race actually took place, I spent my days in a rehabilitation center for just that kind of injury. But I made sure that my mother and her partner signed up, and they actually ran the Wings for Life World Run in 2014 ". When Daniel in 2015 saw that there was an opportunity to participate in a wheelchair, his mind was already set - he would participate!
Today, Daniel lives with his partner Emma in Stockholm. Emma, who was supposed to graduate a couple of months after the accident. Daniels stubborness and consideration shone through even here; he remembers saying "Whatever you do, do not give up your studies now." And, characteristically, Daniel was present during Emma's graduation ceremony, taking place just three months after the accident, and only a week after he was discharged from the hospital – because Daniel was not going to give up.
Currently, the two are practicing together and training for the Wings for Life World Run 2016. The goal is to make it over the Öland Bridge, passing the distance of ten kilometers. "Last year, we made it 8.5 kilometers. This year we will make it, even that last bit of the bridge will be put behind us!"
An inspiration to others
That Daniel has become mentally stronger since the accident, one cannot avoid noticing. Being only 27 years old, he has lived through more than most people have time to experience during a lifetime, yet he inspires others with his infectious positive attitude. With willpower of steel, Daniel has inspired family, friends and colleagues to run the Wings for Life World Run on May 8, 2016.
"We will soon be over 20 people in the team Wings for Daniel and it’s great to see that so many are running. It is a fun race with an important, greater purpose. How far one manages to get really doesn’t matter - the important thing is to have fun. The fact that signing up can save lives is an amazing bonus. "
Catrin Rehnström, Emma Bogren and Daniel shortly after finishing the 2015 Wings for Life World Run.
Daniel Rehnström, 27 years
"I'm rolling for all of us who can’t run, following a skiing accident in March 2014."
Team: Wings for Daniel
Best workout gadget: Runkeeper and Wings for Life Selfie Run app
Best training tips: Find a workout partner at the same level as you. Push each other and aim for similar goals.
Best training partner: My partner Emma
Dream member to join the team: Swedish cross country skier Marcus Hellner.
Goals for the Wings for Life World Run 2016: Making it over the Öland Bridge, finishing 10 kilometers.