But even a broken neck could not hold back God’s call on Dueck’s life.

Broken neck leads to new possibilities

Injury leads Ryan Dueck to share stories of hope and faith

WINNIPEG, MB—A seemingly innocent football injury left undiagnosed for years pushed Ryan Dueck to the breaking point. After months of pain, he was finally diagnosed with a broken neck and a lot of questions about his future and his faith.

The director for Winnipeg YFC’s Samson’s Fitness Centre was left unable to work. If his condition was left untreated much longer he faced drop-head syndrome and the strong possibility of eventual paralysis.

But even a broken neck could not hold back God’s call on Dueck’s life.

With the help of family, friends, a few fundraisers, and a local radiothon, Dueck and his wife, Jennifer, flew to Germany in 2014 for a revolutionary surgery to correct the injury sustained more than five years previous. The damaged vertebrae and discs in his neck were completely removed and replaced with a synthetic vertebral implant and titanium plate with screws.

The surgery was a success.

“I was scared,” Dueck says of his feelings before the surgery. “I wanted to have kids one day. What if I couldn’t lift them into my arms? Now [after the surgery] I’m able to start enjoying aspects of life again. ”

During his time of healing Dueck started the website Six Degrees to Freedom. The original idea was to combine his degree in kinesiology from the University of Manitoba and personal experience to start an online repository and support for those dealing with spinal injuries.

Dueck's website is blessing and connecting people from around the world.
Dueck's website is blessing and connecting people from around the world.

It didn’t take long until the website grew into much more.

Stories of struggles, doubts, fears, and victory flooded in from all over the world. And given this newfound forum of influence Dueck’s faith could not be held back.

Dueck started to share his story with his new community of spinal injury survivors, describing how his faith in Christ is instrumental in helping him every painstaking step along the way. “I get to benefit from their stories and lessons they have learned as well. During this ‘unique’ time of recovery it has become a community in the truest sense.”

Ryan and his wife Jenn.
Ryan and his wife Jenn.

One survivor, Blair, suffered a similar injury to Dueck and struggled for four years with little direction. After hearing Dueck’s story, Blair underwent the same procedure in Germany and Dueck has been a support every step of the way.

Blair writes, “It has been a blessing to have met with [Dueck] and be able to see that there is hope for relief from my debilitating injury.”

Dueck has yet to return to YFC and Samson’s Fitness Centre but as he continues to heal his spirits remain high.

“We all need a purpose, and God knew that I would be feeling a little useless for maybe a little longer than I envisioned myself,” Dueck says. “So I get a chance to encourage people in their faith or even share God with them for the first time.”


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About the author

ChristianWeek Western Correspondent