It is painful to think how the actions of someone else could destroy your future in a blink of an eye. On December 26, 2015 Colby Duffenais was walking home from a party and was hit by an impaired driver. Colby sustained life changing catastrophic injuries which has left him with severe brain injury and is totally dependent on someone for his every need. Colby is unable to talk, he has a feeding tube because he cannot eat, he is bed ridden, and wheelchair bound. Colby Duffenais had a lot going for him: He was in college working on his second trade and getting good grades; he did the Heavy Equipment Operator program as his first trade, but could find no work so he wanted to broaden his skills base and was doing the Mobile Crane Operator’s program…which he was paying for himself with a student loan. He was excited when he was accepted into the Mobile Crane Operator program because it meant that he would have a better chance of getting a good job and to start making a life for both he and his girlfriend. He had so many plans (as all young adults do) of what he was going to get and do with the money he earned. He couldn’t wait for his new nephew to be born so that he could fly up to Waterloo to see him and the twins (his other niece and nephew), he always talked about his brother Adam and the kids and how he couldn’t wait to be able to make enough money to take his girlfriend up to see them again and to go to Canada’s Wonderland and Niagara Falls.
Things didn’t turn out the way he had imagined , thanks to a drunk driver! Because of him Colby will never get married, never father a child, never succeed and grow into the man he was meant to be. The drunk driver has taken so much away from him and his family: He has taken away Colby’s FREEDOM, Colby has to rely on someone for his every need, he has taken away Colby’s DIGNITY because he has to rely on someone to wash and bathe him, wear an adult diaper and be changed – his father thought that after changing Colby as a baby that he would of not been put in a situation where he would have to change him at age 21, the drunk driver has taken away Colby’s DREAMS of someday of getting married and having children and providing a good life or them, he has taken away Colby’s QUALITY OF LIFE – Colby was a very physically active person who took good care of himself and his body, he enjoyed snowmobiling and spending time with his friends. The drunk driver gets to live his life; he gets to do all of the things that he took away from Colby.
There’s a twinkle of hope when Colby’s dad was given some great news regarding an application that he made for Colby for an Accessible Vehicle Program,which was approved. This program is designed to help individuals with disabliltiies to gain greater access to the community by providing funding to modify an existing vehicle. His father was on a high when he got the phone call to say that Colby was approved for the grant but the problem is they don’t have a vehicle that meets the program’s stringent conditions and requirements for the modification. His father fought long and hard to get the $25,000 grant (the modification costs $25,321 and he would have to pay the $321) but may end up losing the grant because he doesn’t have the vehicle and the grant is time sensitive. It would have meant that Colby would not have to endure the rough ambulance rides to and from appointments; he would be able to go in his wheelchair as opposed to the having to lie on the hard stretcher the entire time. It would have meant that he would be able to take Colby on a leisurely drives, he would be able to take him to the mall or any community events.
Colby didn’t deserve what happened to him, he was doing the right thing by walking home. Getting a van won’t change the fact that Colby’s life is forever altered but it would mean he could have a better quality of life.
The links below have Colby’s story and an interview his dad had with the CBC.
CBC News Story
Colby's Facebook videos