Coast Mental Health Announces Sixth 2009 Courage To Come Back Award Recipient



    /EMBARGOED UNTIL 4:00AM TUESDAY, APRIL 28, 2009/

    LORI SLATER named as recipient in MEDICAL category

    VANCOUVER, April 27 /CNW/ - Coast Mental Health announced the last of six
award recipients of a 2009 Courage To Come Back Award. Lori Slater of Fort St.
John has been named as the 2009 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the
Medical category. Recipients will receive their awards at the Courage gala on
Thursday, April 30th.
    Lori Slater says, "I don't consider myself disabled because there are so
many things I am able to do. I don't dwell on the 'cannots', I concentrate on
the 'cans'. Life is good." Remarkable words from a remarkable woman.
    Born with spina bifida, Lori required surgery at just 10 days old. With
the exception of a lump on her back and some numbness and weakness, she was
much like other children her age. She certainly didn't consider herself
"disabled." As an adult, however, Lori discovered the lump on her back had
grown and, just prior to the birth of her second child, she underwent the
first of many surgeries to remove scar tissue that had formed around her
spinal cord. In her late 30s, the debilitating numbness and weakness in her
legs returned, and Lori once again faced surgery. Even though the operation
wasn't wholly successful, the doctors recommended no further operations and
Lori and her family tried to accept the realities of their new life.
    Within five years, her condition had worsened, and another surgery was
undertaken in a hospital hundreds of miles away from her husband and children.
The distance and the pain began to take their toll and Lori started into a
downward spiral as she struggled to come to terms with her increasing
disability. This operation was unsuccessful and she was put on medication to
dull the pain in her legs. The medication made her dizzy and she began to
repeatedly fall, sometimes very seriously. She remembers this time as a blur
of doctor visits and trips to Vancouver until finally, in 2004, she was told
no more surgeries were possible, and she must spend all her time in a
wheelchair. She had to re-learn how to cook, take care of the house, transfer
in and out of her chair, get in the bathtub, and get dressed. Depressed, she
just wanted to forget about life.
    In Vancouver, she spent a week as an outpatient at a rehabilitation
hospital. Seeing the struggles of people there, Lori saw herself and decided
that she wanted to make a difference in their lives in a way professionals
couldn't: she wanted to be a peer supporter and share her experiences with
others. Back home, she got involved in fundraising, and soon was volunteering
nearly full-time - 1600 hours a year! - to improve the lives of people living
with a spinal cord injury.
    And make a difference she does: Lori holds down eight volunteer positions
in Fort St. John, unselfishly focusing her passion and energy to make her
community more inclusive to people with disabilities. People who know Lori
well will tell you that on or off the job, she is always helping others, going
out of her way to engage and encourage people one-on-one, wherever she goes.
Despite living with chronic pain and limited physical ability, Lori has made a
dramatic difference in her community.
    Lori says, "Receiving a Courage To Come Back Award is an honour and I
feel very humbled to be chosen. I hope that my story can inspire others to
never give up on their dreams."
    Congratulations, Lori. Coast is proud to have you as our 2009 Courage To
Come Back recipient in the Medical category.

    Lori Slater named as recipient in CTCB Medical category

    Lori will receive her Courage To Come Back Award at the 11th Annual Gala
Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Vancouver on Thursday, April 30th. For
tickets, call 604-675-2328 or purchase online at www.coastmentalhealth.com

    About Courage To Come Back:

    The Courage To Come Back Awards celebrate people who have inspired others
as they have courageously battled back from illness, adversity or injury.
Through Courage, British Columbians are acknowledged for their
accomplishments, positive attitudes and willingness to give back to their
communities. Awards are given in six categories including: mental health,
physical rehabilitation, medical, addiction, social adversity and youth.

    About Coast Mental Health:

    Since 1972, Coast Mental Health has been providing high-quality housing,
employment programs, social opportunities and other community mental health
services for people with serious and persistent mental illnesses.
    Through presenting the stories of six amazing recipients each year at The
Courage To Come Back Awards, Coast Mental Health strives to offer hope to all
those suffering from illness, adversity or injury and demonstrates that all
people have value and dignity regardless of the illness, adversity or injury
they have faced.





For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Julia Zado, Director of
Communications, D: (604) 675-2342, C: (604) 506-3095,
juliaz@coastmentalhealth.com

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