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Video: Resilient Burnaby resident recognized at 2024 Courage to Come Back Awards

Monica Gartner's bones may break easily, but not her spirit to help others like her.

Monica Gartner of Burnaby was among the winners of this year's Courage to Come Back Awards in the annual ceremony's Medical Category.

The following excerpt was submitted to the NOW from Coast Mental Health, host of the Courage to Come Back Awards.

From the day she was born, Monica Gartner has faced challenges most could not imagine.

She has a very rare bone disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, causing her bones to break easily.

As a result, she has had over 500 fractures — something as small as a cough could cause a broken rib.

As a child, she felt excluded from day-to-day activities in school and was bullied, taking an immense mental toll, and leading to suicidal thoughts.

She couldn’t see a future for herself.

But she persevered, completing her studies and becoming strong enough to manage many tasks — such as getting items out of a fridge — that might have seemed impossible.

Despite facing discrimination at every turn, Monica gained full time employment.

She was underestimated and overlooked for roles and promotions by employers because of her disability and had to work extra hard to prove herself time and time again.

After two car accidents, a fall out of her chair, which resulted in multiple fractures, and months and months of rehabilitation, she continues to work full time.

Less than a year ago, both of her lungs collapsed.

Her medical team didn’t think she would survive, and she was denied certain supports because they feared breaking her bones.

But Monica did survive, is back at work, and continues to defy the odds.

Remarkably, Monica finds the time and energy to fulfill her life’s mission: to show that people living with disabilities can live equal lives to able-bodied people.

She selflessly shares her story through public speaking, writing and acting.

In 2016, she published a book, Overcoming the impossible-A Life of Trials and Triumphs, about her story.

She also founded the Canadian Assisted Travel Society to support people with disabilities who want to travel.

She has volunteered her time on multiple charity boards, and mentors her peers.