Nine years ago in the car Adrian Dieleman was driving crashed, rolled over and severed his spinal cord, leaving him a quadriplegic at 22.
“It was not an accident, it was a preventable injury” contends Dieleman. “Accident suggests fate or something irreversible but most injuries are preventable by someone involved.”
The number one killer of people under 20 is injuries. Adrian Dieleman, now 31, has spoken to 15, 000 youth in the last year about his injury, partly as a Smartrisk speaker and party on his own. Smartrisk is a national, non-profit injury-free prevention foundation.
“Risk is a part of life; it’s what makes life exciting. But there are smart risks and stupid risks, and the line separating the two is the ‘stupid line.’ Where will you dear yours?” the audience is challenged. Smartrisk suggests five choices (not rules): Look first; Wear the gear; Get trained; Buckle up; Drive sober.
Smartrisk was founded by. Dr. Robert Conn, a pediatric heart transplant surgeon who had become frustrated by the number of preventable injuries he was seeing. He left his prestigious career to launch Smartrisk. Adrian is a part of his speakers’ bureau.
Adrian had hoped to be at the Paralympics in Atlanta this summer competing on the racetrack, but he was just shy of the qualifying time. He is now aiming for Australia in 2000.
His working out has given him the strength to live independently without even attendant support for the last four years.
Adrian has another love besides racing. He was drawn to an “independent, smart and attractive” young woman at a church retreat a year ago. Karen Kuik found him, “dynamic, with a strong faith commitment and beautiful eyes” On June 29th they were married at Ancaster Canadian Reform Church. Karen, 29, teaches grade six and John Calvin School in Smithville, Ontario and is completing her honour degree at McMaster.
Adrian has his Business Administration diploma from Seneca College, and Economics degree from York University and is currently working on his Masters in Theological Studies at the Ontario Theological Seminary.
Adrian’s sister Deny, is the unflappable office manager of Campaign Life Coalition. His mother Joanne, is the director of Aid to Woman and an effective sidewalk counsellor. “My mother is blessed with a lot of determination which I have inherited. She is able to do a tremendous amount and not think twice about it.”
Joanne and her husband Adrian have raised eight children, two of whom were adopted, one with spina bifida and one mentally disabled. As foster parents they cared for about 250 children, many whom were disabled or street kids. Adrian maintains that despite all her pro-life work, his mother never shortchanged her own family.
It is common for those who have suffered traumatic spinal cord injury to experience sever depression. Remarkably Adrian never hit that low, although several of the fellows he met in rehabilitation committed suicide.
“Tons of Christians were praying for me,” he said, adding that the pro-life community was supportive throughout his ordeal.