When the firefighters reached Andrew Gauci in the wreckage and discovered he was alive, they were surprised.

On that June day in 2018, they arrived to find an SUV had run into the back of a construction vehicle. While the driver's side of the minivan was largely intact, the passenger side was badly mangled.

Andrew had been in the front passenger seat.

Two weeks later, he woke up at Sunnybrook. His right arm and both of his legs had been crushed, and part of his right leg had to be amputated. As Andrew describes it, "the Sunnybrook team had to put me back together."

Andrew during the 2018 Achilles St. Patrick's Day Race.
Andrew was then transferred to Sunnybrook's St. John's Rehab, and the journey to rebuild his life began. His first goal: to walk again.

Working closely with physiatrist Dr. Amanda Mayo, Andrew was fitted for a prosthetic leg in October and took his first steps in the New Year. Encouraged by the St. John's Rehab staff, he decided to sign up for the 2019 Achilles St. Patrick's Day Race — an annual walk and run that encourages people of all abilities to participate.

Participants can choose to fundraise in support of various organizations, including the St. John's Rehab Program, which has partnered with Achilles Canada since 2008.

Andrew was keen to fundraise. "If I'm going to raise money for anything, it should be St. John's Rehab," he explains. "The people there are phenomenal." Andrew successfully raised nearly $3,000, the third highest amount raised this year.

The day of the event, he wanted to be surrounded by the people who had helped make every step possible. The firefighters who pulled him from the minivan that day happily accepted Andrew's invitation to join him, amazed to be walking with the man who had beaten the odds.

Rose Awards