Retired Master Cpl. Paul Franklin probably never envisioned himself as a role model and inspirational speaker.
All that changed seven years ago. "I was a quiet, reserved guy, now I'm thrust into the limelight. It's a strange place to be," he said in a television interview with George Stroumboulopoulos, two years after he lost both his legs to a suicide bomber in Kandahar, Afghanistan in January 2006.
The husband and father still vividly remembers the day that changed his life forever.
A taxi pulled in front of their vehicle and exploded, the force of the blast so great it blew their light-armoured jeep into the air and about 20 metres across the road.
Others in their four-vehicle convoy were killed, including Canadian diplomat Glyn Berry, and many soldiers, including Franklin were seriously wounded.
The blast severed his left leg, and his head and hands were on fire, but Franklin (who suffered third-degree burns) was still conscious and able to instruct another soldier to apply a tourniquet to his leg, which probably saved his life.
In the months that followed back in Canada, Franklin endured 20 surgeries before doctors finally made the tough decision to amputate his right leg above the knee.
Following that came years of rehabilitation, when he learned, not only how to walk on two prosthetic legs, but also his true calling in life.
Franklin found his focus and became a tireless advocate and an inspiration for other wounded soldiers.
While he said he still relives that moment when the suicide bomber almost took his life, that was the point where his life transitioned. He has new goals now.
Franklin co-founded a charity and became the voice and advocate of wounded Canadian veterans.
"My charity is the Amputee Coalition of Canada (ACC)," he told the Times Saturday from his home in Edmonton.
"And what we do is take the experience of soldiers and health care workers and change the system for all, including civilians. Together the team can change everything."
Franklin didn't go into the specifics of the ACC - saving those details for when he addresses the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Feb. 27.
He tours the country speaking on behalf of veterans and the struggles they face and those he continues to face.
"Each day is tough physically and mentally, but through just everyday life, I find satisfaction and hope," said Franklin.
When asked what message he will bring to the Chamber of Commerce luncheon later this month, he simply replied:
"That a single person can sometimes change the world."
The Chamber lunch is Feb. 27 at 11: 30 a.m. at the Abbotsford Banquet and Conference Centre, 33738 Laurel St., Abbotsford.
-Paul Franklin is also the cofounder of the Heroes Hockey Challenge (HHC), developed to raise funds to support wounded veterans and their families.
On April 6-7 Abbotsford will host its first HHC, with members of the armed forces facing off against former NHL players at the AESC.
Last year HHCs were held in Calgary and Vancouver, and to date more than $85,000 has been raised for military charities.
The gala dinner will be held April 6 at Phoenix Lounge, 33780 King Rd., Abbotsford with two guest speakers: distinguished soldier Lieut.-Col. Christopher Henderson, recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal for his service in Afghanistan, and NHL hockey legend Pat Quinn.
The dinner will follow formal military procedures and will include a live and silent auction.
The hockey game will be played Sunday, April 7 at 3 p.m. at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, and will feature hockey greats Pat Quinn, Cliff Ronning, Dave Babych, Dave 'Tiger' Williams, Ryan Walter, Ron Stern and Gino Odjick.
For more details on the hockey challenge, including ticket information, see the website at www. heroeshockeychallenge.com.