West Kelowna  

Cole's fighting spirit

Friends and family are rallying behind a young Kelowna man who was seriously injured in a construction site accident last week.

Cole Bernier, 23, is a local athlete and cross-fit enthusiast.

He was working at a new housing development in West Kelowna when roof trusses and plywood fell on him, trapping him for nearly 30 minutes.

Bernier was rushed to Kelowna General Hospital before he and his family were airlifted to Vancouver.

His injuries are significant. Two of his vertebrae are broken, his lungs punctured and his spinal cord is seriously injured.

But Bernier is strong, his attitude is positive and he has a wealth of friends and family rallying around him.

“He is doing awesome. He is just in such good spirits and he has such a fighting spirit,” his mom, Kate, said from Vancouver. “He is the same old Cole right now. And he has just had so much love and support it is phenomenal.

“Anyone who knows Cole would agree that he has an unrelenting passion for life and every person who is a part of his.”

Bernier's long-term prognosis is unknown, but once he heals from his injuries and surgery, he will head to the G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre to continue his recovery.

To help him along, friends have started a GoFundMe account to ensure he can continue healing without any financial worry.

“Many people over the past few days have been sharing the ways that Cole has so positively impacted their lives and they really want to help,” said Kate.

Brandon Boot wrote on the page: “Since the day we met, not only has Cole been a friend, he's been a role model, a mentor and a brother."

Boot met Bernier at the local cross-fit gym and said every time Bernier stepped onto the competition floor, he gave it 110 per cent.

“He left everything he had out there, walking away with no regrets and making sure to cheer on everyone else there with him,” said Boot.

Friends have also taken to social media, sharing uplifting stories of the way Bernier has impacted their lives. They are all hashtagged #Bernierstrong.

“All the messages and the support he has been getting have kept him so strong and positive, and he is doing so well,” said Kate.

The account created on Sunday has already raised more than $5,400. Friends hope to bring in $15,000 for the family.

“With such severe injuries, Cole needs to concentrate on healing, and all of our help will go a long way in assisting him during this challenging process,” said Boot.

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