Imagine if you woke up one day and you couldn’t wiggle your toes…
Kevin Brooks is a dynamic speaker with a life changing story. In just over a decade Kevin has spoken to over half a million people across North America. His story has impacted, motivated and inspired countless people, ultimately changing attitudes and saving lives.
Kevin’s journey as a speaker began with a chance meeting with an iconic and inspirational man named Rick Hansen who in 1985 set off on a worldwide journey in his wheelchair. Rick’s goal: changing attitudes and raising awareness for people with disabilities. Meeting a fellow paraplegic who had accomplished so much without the use of his legs was a life changing experience for Kevin. A seed was planted that day that would set Kevin off on an epic journey that would not only change his life but more importantly change the lives of so many others.
2 Years Earlier…
What started as a typical Saturday night of partying for the skateboarding, snowboarding, hockey playing, self proclaimed Creature, quickly turned tragic with a fateful poor choice. Fueled by a deadly combination of alcohol, testosterone and that fearless “it will never happen to me attitude” often held by young people, Kevin left a party. Driving intoxicated, distracted and in excessive speeds, he was not alone. Beside him sat his passenger and childhood hockey friend Brendon.
The result - a horrific crash…
Weeks later Kevin would learn the devastating news as he lay in a hospital bed on life support. He was paralyzed from the chest down and would now rely on a wheelchair to get him around. In disbelief Kevin tried to move his legs. He gave everything he had to just wiggle his toes, but his lower body lay still. As if this news was not bad enough, Brendon had not survived the crash at all.
Horrified, Kevin’s first thoughts were of giving up and ending his life. However, suicide was hardly possible at this early point in his recovery Kevin being paralyzed and confined to a bed . He was left to lay there with his thoughts, his guilt, and the overwhelming sadness and fear that had enveloped this once active and care free young man.
Kevin’s family and friends as well as Brendon’s family, rallied to support Kevin during the darkest days of his life. His attitude began to change, and soon Kevin’s thoughts were focused more on figuring out how to live than they were on wanting to die.
“Brendon and I grew up together. Our families spent so much time at the rink and on road trips. My sister Allison dated Bren in high school. Our parents always got along well, and Bren’s parents were always good to me. When I learned of their support following the crash I was at first surprised. Facing them was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life even with their support. They truly gave me another chance, and I knew I had to do something positive with it. They also taught me an invaluable lesson in forgiveness”
It would take months of rehabilitation to heal a grocery list of injuries combined with seemingly every infection a hospital could offer. Still faced with such insurmountable challenges, Kevin chose to swim rather than sink… and swim he would.
2 Years Later…
After his chance meeting with Rick Hansen Kevin pondered how he too could make a positive difference… Eventually he decided to hold an event. But HOW? And more importantly WHAT?
Thinking back to a recent time when his mother, six year old sister Hayley and him had gone to a public beach, Kevin recalled watching Hayley splashing and playing in the water as he sat on the sidelines. He remembered the tears that filled his eyes that day as he further realized the consequences of his poor choices from the past and the effects on his family. Determined to not let their day be ruined Kevin fought to push his wheelchair through the sand that day and into the water. Play with Hayley he did, and as he waded in the shallows Kevin secretly vowed to come back to this beach one day and swim across that lake using nothing but his upper body.
BOOM! An Idea is Born and Fate Would Follow…
The fundraiser called From Wheels to Water happened that summer. Kevin indeed swam the lake after spending the past six months training and learning to swim. The event brought together family and friends, raised nearly $10000 and attracted local media. A week following the fundraiser Kevin was invited to speak about his experience in an elementary school library. Kevin never knew it at the time, but that presentation would be the beginning of an unbelievable journey.
Today Kevin is busier than ever traveling across North America sharing his inspirational story. Over the years Kevin’s presentation has evolved into much more than simply a motivational / road safety presentation. His audience has evolved from 30 kids in an elementary school library too. To date, Kevin has spoken in well over one thousand middle and high schools; in dozens of colleges and universities to sororities and sports teams; at countless community events and conferences; and for thousands of US Army troops. Local media still regularly cover his story as did the Tyra Show starring Tyra Banks for an episode titled Teens on the Edge: A Wake Up Call.
“Over the years I have received a lot of constructive feedback from people who have seen my presentation. I listen. I always listen. There have been times when the lesson or topic I am being thanked for delivering is not necessarily something I was fully conscious I was even addressing. It’s through this kind of feedback that I am encouraged to keep developing my presentation, taking it in new directions and elaborating on different topics and elements.”
Topics of Kevin’s Presentation Include:
- Impaired, Distracted and Dangerous Driving, Speed and Seatbelt Usage
- Suicide Prevention, Self Harm and Depression
- Bullying, Relationships, Forgiveness
- Decision Making and Peer Pressure
- Overcoming Obstacles and Coping with Guilt, Tragedy and Stress
- Leadership and Creating Positive Change
- High Schools and Middle Schools
- Provincial, State, National Conferences (SADD, P.A.R.T.Y. etc)
- Colleges, Universities and Sororities
- Military and Army
- Sport Teams
- Community Forums and Events
Kevin decision to live and to take the most tragic event of his life and turn into something positive for himself and so many others has been a blueprint for countless other people facing their own tragedies and darkness. His story is real example that even when faced with seemingly impossible odds one can overcome and move forward. By choosing to fight and never give up, by searching for life’s silver linings and by finding a way to turn tragedy into advocacy, Kevin has become an inspiration and role model for countless people. Kevin’s will to fight and never give up have inspired many to face their own challenges in life with new confidence and strength. His positive outlook on life has motivated thousands to appreciate life in a profound new way. And Kevin’s keen knack for telling a personal story impacts audiences like none other.
One minute he will have you laughing… The next minute he will have you crying… And by the end Kevin will have you so moved that you can say that your life has been forever changed from hearing his story…
You will wiggle your toes, and You will remember Kevin’s story.
“I was at your presentation yesterday and I have to admit that I was truly amazed by your story. To be honest I thought it was just another bullsh*t mandatory training that the army makes us go to just to “check the block” but I can honestly say that I enjoyed it and I am sure that everyone else did also.”
- Andrew: Soldier Fort Polk, Louisiana
“Hi Kevin…I am about to turn 50….. I got a 90 day driving prohibition and was feeling sorry for myself…then I looked up ICBCs info on impaired driving and you came up,,, after hearing your story …I don’t feel sorry for myself…I can wiggle my toes…..someday we will be able to correct nerve damage… I hope it happens in your life time…if anyone person deserves it…it would be you…I am very impressed by you…well done”
- Mitchell Ferguson: Facebook Post
“It has been nearly three years since I saw Kevin’s presentation last.. but his inspirational message still follows me to this day. Keep on keepin’ on man.. you are doing an absolutely amazing job and making this world a far better place!!”
- Jennelle Clark, Student, Regina, Saskatchewan
“Kevin, I work with many kids with emotional disturbances of some form or another. I held the doors as students exited today, and I saw so many moved faces (with and without tears). I have seen the same group of kids sit through other presentations, but not nearly as interested or involved. I’ve talked to a few students who said they emailed you about bullying. One student in particular has been having trouble staying in class. Today she stayed in class and toughed it out, I was surprised and delighted. I think she felt good about it too. Thank you for whatever you did to help her realize she’s NOT the problem. I don’t need a response, I know you’re busy. I just wanted to let you know that you have made a difference in at least one student’s life in as little as one day. You truly have a gift, thanks for sharing it.”
- Jen Teacher, Burlington, Vermont
“Hi Kevin, Thanks so much for taking the time to visit both Glenboro and Baldur Schools. The presentation the students heard today was unreal and well received. A lot made the comment to me that this was the best presentation they have ever seen, especially on such a touchy subject as drinking and driving. You really touched a lot of people today!!! Both schools are now starting T.A.D.D. (Tennagers Against Destructive Decisions) groups. Thanks again for your inspiring words!”
- Tammy Billingall Guidance & Counsellor / CTS Glenboro & Baldur Schools, Manitoba
“Kevin, wow. I am sooo grateful that I had the opportunity to hear you speak at Salpointe! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing, inspirational story to all of us. You’re truly my hero! You’re such an amazing person and hilarious too by the way. thanks again and god bless. :)”
- Mary Aguilar, Student, Tucson, Arizona
“yo kevin! your story was amazing and it really inspired me! that story will be with me for life, I will never forget it or you. The way you told that story really sunk in and will hopefully help me make the right decisions in life. Kevin Brooks for life!!!”
- Brody Hood, Student, Barrie, Ontario
“Kevin Brooks is the most phenomenal speaker I can imagine for teens. If our students ever hear one speaker in their lives, it needs to be Kevin Brooks. He is the athletic, outgoing, smooth with the ladies, popular guy who was the life of every party. He was the kind of student that we so often have trouble connecting with, the ones that feel invincible. I truly believe he reaches and impacts our students like no one else can.”
- Jodi Abel, Teacher & SADD Advisor, Weyburn, Saskatchewan