Major award for Castlegar advocate

Courage to Come Back recognition for Kris Stanbra of Castlegar

Pictured with Bella in the basket are

Worthy nominations have a long shelf life, and one important nomination has been recently held over and recognized with a major tribute.

Gail Oglow had last year nominated her friend and fellow Castlegarian Kris Stanbra for the “Courage to Come Back” award in the physical rehabilitation category. Kris’s name was not chosen for the top kudo last year, but organizers encouraged Oglow to re-submit this time around, leaving the bulk of the material in the nomination package intact.

The popular local citizen has recently received a well-deserved honour – one she is most appreciative of.

“I was on my way to Trail for an eye appointment when I got the call,” Stanbra described of the day she got the big news. “I had to pull off by the Oasis turnoff and I just sat there, absolutely in shock, listening to this man telling me I had just won this fabulous award. I must have told him three times just how honoured I was.”

A massive gala ceremony is slated for the second weekend in May – a splashy event at the Vancouver Convention Centre, but the excitement has already begun for the woman who was featured in a Castlegar News story a couple of years back on the occasion of a Rick Hansen visit.

Kris Stanbra, in the early 80s, had been involved in a serious car accident at the age of 28. She received a spinal cord injury for which the prognosis was not good.

As has so often been the case, major trauma to the spinal cord has been tantamount to a life of paralysis. Kris, however, with an irrepressible attitude and top medical treatment in Kamloops, has beaten the odds, able to have a relatively high level of mobility.

Kris credits the wisdom of a Doctor Shandro who chose to heavily ice up the injured cord, preventing swelling which she understands could have led to much worse, and permanent injury. These days Kris enjoys getting around on a robust scooter, often with her lap dog Bella in a handlebar-mounted carrier. She is also capable of limited walking with the help of a cane.

Kris Stanbra has a very loving family and many friends, a situation she is most grateful for in terms of her recovery, and of course, otherwise, but she is also cognizant of the value of a positive outlook.

“It’s very important to have a good support team around you,” said the award recipient, “but I think the bottom line is you have to have it within yourself. You have to know that you’re strong and have to believe you can overcome things. I’ve always had that optimistic attitude… I’m the eternal optimist.” That being said, Stanbra was surprised to get the award.

“I’m humbled by the other people who have won these awards,” she related. “I’ve gone online and looked at many of their stories. “I’m absolutely blown away by their contributions.”

Kris has had a chance to get in on some exciting events already, having paid a visit to the Global TV studios on the Lower Mainland earlier this month, and very much enjoying the experience.

The upcoming official gala will hold the added thrill of delivering an acceptance speech to the large gathering. Kris gets to take an entourage of up to ten along for the experience.

The number of nominations for these annual awards is high, and votes must be unanimous in the selection of winners, making the ceremonies all the more prestigious.

Stanbra, who has long served as an advocate  for greater accessibility for people with physical challenges, is most gracious and grateful for the acknowledgement.

Nominator Gail Oglow had the following comment when contacted this week:

“We’ve been friends since we were little. It’s easy for us to forget about Kris’ spinal cord injury, her disability, or adversity and struggles, and her long fight for independence, because she has this seemingly effortless can-do attitude. I’ve always been amazed, whatever she takes on. Sometimes we get a flash and just kind of shake our heads because we see her brilliant vision… her boundless energy when she takes on advocacy roles or serves on disability boards. It’s remarkable what she has to go through and she just forges on… never questions it… never falters…just perseveres.”

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