‘Fire of spirit’
We’ve all been exposed in some way to those inspirational people who contribute to society in the most amazing ways, despite some major form of physical setback.
Whether they are introduced on a largely televised talk show, or simply a local evening news special, these people generally make us able-bodied citizens feel somewhat inadequate due to their undying sense of determination and willingness to help others.
However, as Mount Royal students, seldom do we get the privilege of so closely co-existing with such an individual right here on our own campus.
Due to his friendly demeanour and willingness to share his story and ideals, much of the Mount Royal student body is familiar with 24-year-old Caylan Boyse. The name “Caylan” is an inspirational term in itself, meaning “fire of spirit,” in Irish Gaelic and Boyse lives up to the hype of his name by making efforts to improve the world despite enduring a tragic car accident that left him 83 per cent disabled.
On the night of July 31, 2004, Boyse was travelling with a car full of friends heading to a volleyball tournament in Saskatchewan. At around 2 a.m., the impaired driver of the vehicle Boyse was in lost control of the car and struck a ditch at 160 km/hr. This sent the car rolling, dragging Boyse’s unprotected body out of the window as it went down. Boyse says he immediately knew he would never walk again. Now a paraplegic, Boyse says he adapted to a wheelchair quite quickly and easily. “I threw my skin back on and wore it strong and proud,” he says.
Shortly after the accident, the Caylan Boyse Foundation was created in hopes of expanding knowledge about spinal cord injuries.
According to the foundation’s website, “A goal of the Caylan Boyse Foundation is to gather researched information and then sponsor individuals for surgeries to help them live a more enriched life.”
In addition to the foundation Boyse also still remains faithful to his punk-rock roots and maintains the style.
His mother, Helen McPhaden, says she cannot remember a point in time throughout the last four years when she did not think Boyse would persevere. A powerful statement considering her son is in pain everyday, has technically died twice on the operating table and was the only one involved in the car wreck that did not walk away from the carnage.
Despite the circumstances, Boyse’s intense sense of optimism and love of life, as well as his complete refusal to let his disability slow him down are obvious.
“I am a person who had these (positive) thoughts, who lived that life, who got into an accident. These ideas need to solidify themselves so I can move forward,” explains Boyse.
Today, Boyse is a strong social advocate and political activist with extraordinary visions for himself, such as one day becoming the Prime Minister of Canada. He also serves as a voice for the voiceless and attempts to “create a hope for anybody who has been held down, pushed down or kicked around.”
McPhaden says she and those close to Boyse believe he motivates those around him in so many ways.
His attitude towards living is one that is surely an example to be followed: “Life: live it, learn it, love it. You only get one. I was so lucky and thankful to get two.”