“The clock only moves in one direction”
– John Chernesky
John doesn’t walk into the room, he rolls in with his wheelchair accompanied with such poise and self-confidence that it can make you wonder what is his secret?
“I am a born explorer,” John comments. If you looked at his resume there is no refuting it, at the age of 33 he has visited almost every continent in the world apart from Antarctica. John has lived in the United Kingdom, Australia and USA and he has spent extensive periods in parts of Europe, South East Asia, India and China. He goes on to say, “Since I was a small child I have always wondered what was around the corner and as I grew older that next corner stretched into the next neighbourhood and then the next city. Once I reached the age of independence I embraced my spirit of exploration and decided to relocate.” The wheelchair never stopped John because he never let the chair disable him but rather enable his adventures. John notes, “many people have asked me how a young man in a wheelchair could travel so independently throughout the world, and I respond simply that my desire to see what is around the next corner far outweighs the difficulties of what I might encounter in getting there.”
John was paralyzed in a car accident at the age of 16; a very important year in a teenager’s life for self-discovery became a year of surgery and years of rehabilitation. John recalls, “After my surgery I couldn’t move at all, I didn’t know if this was permanent. I spent eight weeks just lying in bed trying to make something move,” John pauses for a moment to share that it’s been a long time since he has brought these memories up. As he continues the emotions surface, it is a peek into what it must have been like to be in that moment, “it happened overnight, I gained function back on the left side of my body, I gained limited arm movement, I don’t know if saying I was over the moon really describes it but I was beyond over the moon.” Without question, John sees not what he lost but what he gained; this is true of him in the past and in the present. He adapted quickly to his new circumstances and everyday forward has been about appreciation for all the things he is capable of doing. His friends and family have played a big part, he is proud to say, “There was no added sympathy or pity party, I remember trying to make it up this hill in my wheelchair, my friends would wait, they would not push me but they would not leave me behind. Like all else in this life, I learned that nothing is a free ride and if I want something I have to earn it.”
After years of exploring and living abroad, John returned to Vancouver to pursue school and ultimately to put down some roots. With a diploma from BCIT but a lack of work experience, John approached Mark Gruenheid of the Greater Vancouver Business Leadership Network. Mark helped John land a number of interviews including an entry level position with CTV coveted by most media and broadcasting graduates. John’s charisma and outgoing personality impressed at the interview, he was offered the position and seized the opportunity. Like his travels John knows that there are no limitations to where he can go with his career, he will take full advantage of this opportunity to show what people who know him already see – a highly determined individual with a mindset for success.
John knows that the person he is proud to be today exists because of all of his life experiences. Though he may glimpse backwards to see where he has come from he constantly looks towards what is ahead of him, as John puts it, “the clock only moves in one direction.”