Diane Gardner inside one of the grand prize homes of the Hometown Heroes Lottery. (Aaron Hinks photo)

VIDEO: B.C. woman praises burn fund after boat explosion in 1978

White Rock woman was 16 years old when she was left with second- and third-degree burns

Doctors from Vancouver General Hospital’s burn unit didn’t expect White Rock’s Diane Gardner to survive.

It was 1978. Gardner was in the cabin of a 40-foot boat, docked in Campbell River to refuel. She was 16 years old.

Unbeknownst to her, there was an broken fuel line on the boat, and 400 gallons of gasoline was exposed.

The engine turned over and the boat exploded, hurling Gardner 20 feet from the cabin off the aft of the boat, into the water.

She was pulled out and rushed to the local hospital, while her skin, she said, was “hanging off my body in shreds, like streamers.”

She was then flown to the burn unit at Vancouver General Hospital. She had second- and third-degree burns on 90 per cent of her body and ended up spending three months in hospital.

Gardner now uses her story to highlight the importance of the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.

If only the fund was available when she was burned. Coincidentally, it was started the same year of her injury.

Watch Gardner describe what happened that day in 1978:

Although the explosion happened in a matter of seconds, Gardner said the impact is a “lifelong journey.”

“Burns are not just the pain, disfigurement and injury itself. It’s the emotional and psychological injury. I kind of believe if you don’t deal with things, those will come back to haunt you,” she told Peace Arch News Friday.

After Gardner healed, she “got on with my life,” and incredibly, was able to graduate high school with her friends. She went on to study at Simon Fraser University, graduating with a degree in communications before spending many years working for an advertisement agency.

With a glowing smile, she spoke of the support and programs made possible through the burn fund, including an adult program of suvivors and a kids’ summer camp.

“I don’t even have words to describe it. It just fills my heart, it’s come such a long way,” she said.

The most significant aspect, she said, is speaking to others who experienced a similar injury.

“It really gave me courage to wear my injuries and a scars like a badge of honour.”

A chance interaction with another burn survivor, in a Penticton Starbucks seven years ago, had planted a seed.

Despite Gardner not having visible scars, a woman working at the coffee shop grabbed her and recognized that she was a burn survivor. The woman, a survivor herself, asked Gardner if the two could speak after her shift.

The woman explained the burn fund and its programs.

“It was life changing,” she said. “That was a long time ago. But again, a burn injury is a lifelong thing, it’s not just an injury and you get over it.”

Gardner has been selected to attend the Canadian Burn Survivors Conference in Halifax this June. The event will come to Vancouver in 2020.

“I’m honoured, and really excited to see what I’m going to learn.”

Gardner shared her story of survival in the backyard of a Hometown Heroes Lottery prize home.

Proceeds of lottery ticket sales go toward specialized adult health services and research at VGH and UBC Hospital, GF Strong Rehab Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and Vancouver Community Health Services. Funds also support the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.

To learn more about the 2018 Hometown Heroes Lottery, and to purchase tickets, visit https://heroeslottery.com/



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Visit us at peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Thief in Nanaimo steals tablet from vehicle, tries to make online purchases

RCMP remind motorists not to leave valuables in vehicles overnight

RDN grants $1.1 million for replacement of leaky pipes in Cedar

Tender for installation of PVC pipe on Cedar Road area closes Oct. 9

Fire official deems morning fire at Nanaimo school suspicious

Nanaimo Fire Rescue extinguishes fire at portable at École Océane

Nanaimo hotel tax set to go up

Hospitality association lays out five-year plan for tourism in Nanaimo

Tour de Rock ready to start making its way down Vancouver Island

Tour de Rock takes place Sept. 21 to Oct. 4

Kids meet machines at diabetes research fundraiser at Nanaimo’s port

Meet a Machine was held Saturday at the Port of Nanaimo

B.C. Lions hype-man marks 15 years of cheers

Crazy P cheers, chants, bangs his drum and spreads a message of love

Island music trivia tournament a hit on World Alzheimer’s Day

More than $13,000 raised by people naming that tune

Festival parade ‘jazzes’ up downtown Nanaimo

Nanaimo International Jazz Festival closes with Laila Biali Trio Sunday

Opposition to 388 Machleary proposal over-extends public hearing

Nanaimo residents 10-1 against development plan in Old City Quarter, public hearing to be continued

Nanaimo Astronomy Society guest will talk about array of antennas

Guest speaker tells about working with 16-kilometre radio observatory in Chile

Nanaimo high school students cut class to attend climate action rally

Extinction Rebellion Nanaimo rally raises awareness, demands action against climate change

PHOTOS: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

Rescue staff determined the plastic band cut the protected animal’s neck approximately two inches

Nanaimo beekeepers take down nest of giant hornets

One nest eradicated at Robins Park, but there are still Asian giant hornets around

Most Read