In a short few months, Dave Innes has gone from last-second flag bearer to Invictus games athlete.
The 46-year-old brought in the Canadian Flag during the Invictus Games National Flag Tour in late September at CFB North Bay to mark the beginning of the event which took place this fall in Toronto.
Innes, who was injured more than 25 years ago in a training accident at CFB Gagetown, admits he never really thought about competing until he took part in the ceremony in September.
“I had my accident about 27 years ago while serving and injured on duty, so I never thought about applying for the games, I think it is the 4th or 5th year for it now,” said Innes.
“I was more under the impression that it was for Vets who were injured recently. So a few people I had met at the flag ceremony had told me to apply and I would be a perfect candidate to apply for the games.”
Innes applied in late November but never heard back from anyone until late last week when he received an email with the good news.
“I got my confirmation email letter stating that I had been chosen out of the 40 team members to compete so it was a pretty huge shock,” said Innes noting there were 700 applicants from across the country.
Innes is not sure what sport he will participate in but chose powerlifting, wheelchair rugby, and rowing as his events of choice. He expects to attend a training camp in the next couple months where he will find out what sport or sports he will compete in.
The best part, the Games will take place in Australia next October.
“I just recently started traveling in the past year, and one of my places on my bucket list is Australia so it is a win-win situation for sure,” he said.
The Invictus Games use the power of adaptive sport to help wounded warriors on their journey to recovery. Innes has become an inspiration to many around him. Innes was a healthy member of the Elite Airborne who competed in the biathlon.
The accident left him paralyzed from the bottom of his ribs down.
However, he defied the odds, by getting out of hospital three months ahead of schedule just in time to attend his older brother’s wedding.
In 2013 he rode a three-wheel bike for 200 kilometres to raise money for cancer research. He has been a fitness trainer at the YMCA as well and has never stopped living a healthy lifestyle even though doctors initially told him back in 1990 he would not live to see his 40th birthday.
“If you do not look after yourself, the stress on your organs and stuff like that, so I have always strived to do something,” said Innes.
“From day one of my accident, I never sat around and had the ‘why me,’ or ‘poor me.’ I have always done something and always have something to keep my mind going or better myself or something like that.
“I have the mentality there is no excuse if you are handed what you are handed you make of it how you deal with it.”