On the road to recovery

Former Forest Lake resident Mark Daniels hasn't taken a backward step in the gym despite losing his right leg in a horror motorbike crash in WA.
Former Forest Lake resident Mark Daniels hasn't taken a backward step in the gym despite losing his right leg in a horror motorbike crash in WA.

BLOOD, sweat and tears. An inspirational young man at just 23 years old, Mark Daniels has had his fair share of all three.

Growing up in Forest Lake before joining the Australian Navy and moving to Western Australia, Daniels' life was irreversibly changed by a distracted driver.

Hit at high speed and thrown from his motorbike, the graduate from St Johns Anglican College fell into a coma as doctors tried in vain to save his right leg.

"How do you accept something like that," Daniels asked. "It's been a rollercoaster. If you've ever had to push a vacuum around in a wheelchair you'll know it's something different."

Despite the distance, friends and family made sure Daniels didn't wake up from his coma alone.

A Facebook page for 'Team Mark' which recently reached more than a thousand followers, was waiting with countless messages of support.

Daniels admitted the overwhelming support had helped him grapple with rebuilding his life.

"I had heaps of visitors but when it went dark that's when I went dark," he admitted. "They made the page so everyone could get in touch and it quickly became a motivational page for me.

"It took six months before I could get back on a wakeboard again and feel a bit normal again."

Splitting with his fiancé the year before, and the ongoing surgeries only made the situation harder for young Mark.

Now contemplating further surgery to take more of his leg in exchange for more motion, Daniels has matured quickly.

"A knee is great but only if it works," he laughed. "I would rather have the surgery above my knee so that I can have a full range of motion.

"I had a knee reconstruction but got about 90 degree of movement and for me I'd rather a life where I can do all the things I want to."

Even before the accident, Daniels was a self-professed 'gym junkie' who spent hours every week testing his limits and pushing past them.

The teenage boy whose work ethic and determination would often put his mates to shame hasn't changed much.

Now Daniels performs seemingly impossible squats, deadlifts, dips and curls which boggle the minds of his fellow gym members in Perth.

For him, the gym gives both purpose and a sense of identity that could never be taken away.

While there is still a long way to go in his own recovery, Daniels hopes that his experiences can inspire others who face similar difficulties.

Someone who once avoided English classes at Forest Lake College, the 23-year-old now acts as a motivational speaker for Limbs 4 Life, an organisation that provides support for amputees.

"Mainly because I am so passionate about it, I decided to turn this crap into something positive," he said. "Meeting these kids was an eye-opening experience and I think I've learnt more from them than they have from me.

"I've gotten a lot of feedback saying how real it was to hear what I had to say. I just want to give them a heads up on what they were about to go through and I think I develop more as I speak to more people."

Supported by the Navy, Daniels has continued his long road to recovery. Robbed of certain dreams he had growing up, the young amputee continues to make new ones.

He knows the road will be tough, but with an army of supporters and a Navy of friends and workmates behind him, there's only one direction Daniels wants to go.

Topics:  forest lake