Check out the cool dude in this story, even though he suffered a brain injury, he will #NeverStop and will #ConquerABI

Of all of the evidence presented in court, it’s a photo of a punctured van windshield that is among the most compelling for Robert Wein. It’s a circle, right in the middle. It’s where his friend’s helmet and head left a sizable hole after she was struck from behind.

Wein was hit seconds after that. He, too, was wearing a helmet.

On July 19, 2009, five cyclists were on their Sunday morning ride along March Road in Kanata when a mini van struck them from behind, leaving debris strewn across the busy road. Shoes. Bike parts. Sunglasses. Helmets left behind by paramedics who treated the injured.

They became known as the Kanata 5, and a city full of Ottawa supporters followed their recoveries carefully, raising money and awareness about bicycle safety.

The van driver fled the scene and was found later. In October 2011, Sommit Luangpakham was convicted of 10 charges of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. He received a sentence of two years less a day. He said he wouldn’t have left them there had he known he’d hit them. He went home and parked his car with a large hole in the windshield. And then, he went to bed.

Wein still struggles with the massive head trauma he suffered that day. Yet he has dedicated his life to helping others with brain injuries.

He was the fourth person struck and had been a serious athlete. Shortly before that weekend he had completed his fifth triathlon.

He was given a 50 per cent chance of survival. Regaining memory and speech almost verged on the impossible. Walking and cycling were not even worth discussing early on.

He did an interview with me through email because it’s easier for him than speaking.

“When we were hit, I lost it, all of it. I couldn’t walk properly, couldn’t swim, couldn’t run, couldn’t bike, couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t. I felt that the list had no end. I felt useless and in the way. My greatest disappointment was me, on the whole, right before I started the walk, because I hated who I saw in the mirror,” he wrote.

But, then something happened. He found a purpose: The walk. His awareness walk. And he fully participates.

Almost nine years after the crash, Wein walks, talks and rides. It’s not easy. He has challenges, and he overcomes them. He traded in a road bike for a recumbent bike. He uses a walker. His speech is slower. His memory is perforated, has holes. He doesn’t remember the crash. In fact, he actually doesn’t recall anything from the month before to about six months after. Some of his other memories appear only if prompted by others.

“It’s like a diskette, where all of the information is in there, but without a directory you can’t find it,” he says. “I’m not able to self-summon it. If someone else mentions something about it, it’s instantly available. I don’t know why, but I think that it’s related to the problem.”

Unable to hold a job due to the injury, Wein has dedicated his entire life to brain injury awareness. And, perhaps not surprisingly, finding a purpose gave him hope. He hosts his annual walk to raise awareness for brain injury charities.

“The walk’s premise is to feel good about yourself,” Wein says. “That no matter how you need to, getting to where you want to is what matters. The walk is to help people understand more about brain injury … we walk in a circle, there’s a clear start, but because as with a brain injury there’s a beginning, there’s no end.”

And now he considers himself fortunate, that he can dedicate 100 per cent of his time to fundraising and awareness. He says that the training before the crash taught him that when you decide to “go,” you go all the way, and then some.

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