Ten years ago, Enrico Quilico was told he might never walk again.

In a motorcycle crash on Highway 20 he collided with a car head-first after skidding for 20 metres. He broke several ribs, fractured his pelvis and lay in a coma for two weeks, only regaining consciousness after doctors began fearing he was brain dead.

In the years of rehab that followed Quilico had to relearn basic skills.

“How to speak, how to keep my balance, how to walk up stairs, how to tie my shoes,” he said. “How to do everything.

“By the time I was done rehab, I was 25, I was coming back to this Montreal that I had once known, as a new person,” he added.

To deal with the depression that followed the extensive rehab work, he turned to sports. Today, he is a teacher, working on a Master’s degree in Kinesiology and Physical Education. He also works with adults with severe intellectual disabilities.

Perhaps more remarkably, for a man whose body was once broken so badly, he has over a dozen triathlons under his belt.

Grueling as those are, this year, Quilico is reaching even higher. He’s signed up to compete in his first full Ironman competition in Lake Placid, NY.

“I wanted to do something special and I’ve always had my eye on the Ironman,” he said. “This is the race for a triathlete.”

The race is comprised of a 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike ride and a 42 km run.

“It’ll probably take me between 11 to 12 hours and I’ll be really happy if I do it under 12 hours because it’s the first time,” he said. “It’ll be a hell of a race, but I’m really excited.”

For the past five months he’s been training 20 hours a week. While he’s hoping it all pays off by posting a good time, he said what’s more important is raising money for Brain Injury Canada. Quilico is hoping to raise $10,000 for the non-profit organization.

“If I can promote more awareness about the benefits of exercise after a brain injury like mine, then I will feel like I have accomplished something meaningful,” he said.

Brain Injury Canada spokesperson Barbara Butler said his contributions have gone far past any monetary value.

“He gives other brain injury survivors hope after the injury,” she said.