ANAVETS Shoulder to Shoulder

March 2014

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M aster Cpl. Mitic, a former sniper with the Canadian Forces, stepped on a land mine and lost both legs below the knee while on duty in Afghanistan in 2007. Never one to let something keep him down, Mitic was back to running in charity events just a year later on new prosthetic feet. Not only did Mitic work hard to be able to return to his family, friends and community but he bounced back to also become a national celebrity. He recently starred with his brother, Cory, as a participant on the Amazing Race Canada. The show, which culminated in December, saw Team Mitic finish as runner-up in the finals – no small feat for someone with prosthetics, com- peting in challenges against able-bodied participants. While outperforming teams in physical tasks and racing to every corner of Canada, Mitic and his brother quickly emerged as fan favourites on the television show. Now, Mitic is planning to turn his trademark determination and drive towards the Never Quit Foundation, a cause which he personally championed. The Never Quit Foundation was started with the aim of raising awareness for adaptive living of wounded soldiers and first responders injured in the line of duty. He was instrumental in forming the organization after being involved in Soldier On, which empowers injured or ill military personnel to harness an active lifestyle by providing resources and opportunities to participate in physical, sport and recreational activities. Mitic said after experiencing the Paralympics with that organization, he realized that a lot of social connections were made after the sporting events. "The real bonding that took place was over a drink or at a restaurant after games or competition," he said. Using that knowledge, Mitic and several of his friends hatched the idea for the Never Quit Foundation, which focuses primarily on forging those social connections to give his wounded comrades a support network. "Never Quit was formed with the intent to help other brothers and sisters in arms and comrades in services, as well as children," Mitic said. "We all suffer in our own way but at least we can heal together." That healing is a process he knows all too well. He also recognizes that the Canadian military is a small army on a big land mass. That can make it difficult to connect with others in the same position, going through the same things, he said. "It's important to have the mechanisms and opportunities to meet and support each other," he said from his home near Ottawa. To that end, Never Quit is about providing positive opportunities to send people to special events and have unforgettable experiences – together. "We're finding mentors – instead of sitting at home, we're encouraging people to do something positive and see if it inspires you to do some good. It's about helping the injured or ill among us reintegrate to find their new normal." Although the Never Quit Foundation has been helping people for several years, the organization is keen on switching gears this spring to focus more locally on Ontario. In fact, Mitic said 2014 is a rebirth year for the organization as it will morph from a donation-based organization into the not-for-profit realm. "We're doing the same thing, but in a different manner," he said. Within that, the organization, which has proven to form lasting bonds and con- nections between the people it has helped, is seeking corporate sponsorship. In the meantime, Never Quit is currently in the process of gearing up to send teams to participate in the Spartan Race in Ottawa this June. The event, which is heralded as the world's largest obstacle race, is known internationally for challenging entrants to "discover their inner warrior". Mitic notes it's during those times of training, encouragement and striving to meet goals that bonds are formed and life gets more interesting. "We need to know we can lean on each other," he said. "Creating that social network and being the catalyst for positive experiences is what the foundation is all about – so we're really looking forward to new challenges this year." To get involved or to learn more about the Never Quit Foundation, find it on Facebook, or visit www.neverquitfoundation.ca for more information. Mitic said his personal Twitter account, @JodyMitic and contact details are also available on the site, and interested parties are more than welcome to get in touch with him. SHoUldEr To SHoUldEr 11 Master Cpl. Jody Mitic is seen running in the Achilles St. Patrick's Day 5 km run to benefit St. John's Rehab in Toronto, which was responsible for his rehabilitation and recovery after losing both legs below the knee while serving in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Jody Mitic) NEVER SAY NEVER: The resilient Jody Mitic talks about the Never Quit Foundation by Rosanne Lake Quitting is not in Jody Mitic's vocabulary.

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