A group of 500 sports-minded people will gather on June 20 for Je bouge pour Sainte-Justine, but none of them will have the same appreciation of the fundraising event as 17-year-old Mateo Corrales.
The five-kilometre run, which will be staged with a nod to social distancing, will raise money for the emergency fund of the pediatric hospital. Corrales is able to run today because of his resilience and the care he received at Ste-Justine Hospital.
Corrales suffered life-threatening injuries as a result of a misadventure on Aug. 26, 2018. He and a group of fitness enthusiasts were on the roof of an abandoned factory in Candiac, and they scattered when they thought they were about to be discovered by a security guard. Corrales stumbled into a high-voltage area and was subjected to a 25,000-volt shock.
Corrales remembers being on fire — he suffered severe burns to 50 per cent of his body — and recalls his painful recovery. But he doesn’t remember the frantic efforts to save his life in the immediate aftermath of the accident, because he was in a medically induced coma while plastic surgeon Isabelle Perreault performed the first of what would ultimately be nine operations.
The treatment he received gave Corrales an appreciation of the work being done at Ste-Justine.
“I benefited from highly specialized equipment purchased thanks to donations made to the hospital foundation during my rehabilitation,” he told La Presse last week. “Without that, I would not be where I am today.”
He’s in a good place now.
“I’m healthy and I’m able to play soccer and do all the things I did before,” Corrales said after posing for pictures in a park across from his family home in Candiac.
When asked what he remembered most about his recovery, Corrales replied: “The pain.”
But his recovery was a study in resilience and determination.
He set up a series of goals and would have achieved all of them if the coronavirus pandemic hadn’t wiped out his high school prom at Collège Durocher in St-Lambert.
He was determined to graduate with his class, even though he was unable to attend classes for the first semester of Secondary IV.
“It was tough to concentrate because I was on drugs and I needed help in math, history, French and English,” Corrales said. “I was back in the classroom in January and all I wanted to do was get through the year.”
Corrales also focused on his physical conditioning. He was an avid soccer player before the accident and was his school’s athlete of the year.
“He was 135 pounds before the accident and his weight dropped to 105,” said his father, Gustavo. “As he recovered, it was important that he put on weight and went up to 195 pounds. He was taking in 4,000 calories a day.”
Today, Corrales is a trim 140 pounds.
“I had a kinesiologist set up a program for me,” said Corrales, who jogged, lifted weights and skipped rope.
He has been looking forward to getting back on the soccer pitch once the COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
Corrales will begin studies at CEGEP Édouard-Montpetit in the fall, and his experiences have influenced his career path. He once thought about studying business, but he’s now thinking about following the career path of Lucie Farmer, the physiotherapist who guided him through his rehabilitation.
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