Around 250 people gathered at the Sheraton Hotel on Monday afternoon to remember a committed community member and activist.
Marlin Styner passed away in a Calgary hospital on Feb. 28. He was 51.
He was raised in Red Deer and graduated from Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School.
His health had taken a turn three years ago and he had been in hospital since spring 2011.
A quadriplegic since 1981 after a car crash that left him with a serious spinal cord injury, Styner had a certain insight and perspective that can only be gained by going through something as traumatic as a spinal cord injury.
Over the years, he worked with the Canadian Paraplegic Association, was involved with the P.A.R.T.Y. Program (Prevent Alcohol and Risk related Trauma in Youth).
He was a guest lecturer at Red Deer College, Human Resources and Development Canada, and other local groups.
He spoke on topics such as injury prevention, motivation, overcoming personal and physical barriers, transition, empowerment and living with a disability.
He was also on numerous boards of directors, task forces, advisory boards and committees, locally in Red Deer, provincially and for the federal government.
Styner was a member of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities from 2005-2008 and council chair from 2008-2011.
During a celebration of life for Styner, his brother Parker Styner spoke.
“For the past 33 years of his 51-year life he has been confined to a wheel chair as a quadriplegic. Strange part of this is he didn’t count himself as handicapped, he found those that considered him handicapped as restricted in the way they thought, but only in the nicest possible way,” he said. “Marlin was a unique individual and I never met anyone in my travels that had the drive that he did. He was a great man who didn’t know what it meant to be knocked down without having a positive outlook.
“He was such a strong person – stronger than I will be and he will be deeply and lovingly missed.
Lance Dzaman, a long-time friend who first met Marlin in Grade 1, told the story of him and Marlin, along with two others, who went to a Calgary Flames game years back.
He said after they arrived, Marlin told the group that he had two tickets for the wheelchair section and two tickets for their attendants.
“He looked at me and said, ‘There’s a wheelchair in the back (of the van), grab it and get in’.”
Dzaman added after the game he couldn’t wait to leave, but Marlin had other ideas.
“With five minutes left in the game, Marlin said to me ‘Oh and by the way, I have tickets for us to go down to the dressing room and meet the teams’,” he said with a laugh. “Once we got back into the parking lot, I hopped out of the chair and threw it into the back of the van and off we went.”
Doug Manderville, with the Canadian Paraplegic Association, told attendants that he first met Marlin through a P.A.R.T.Y. Program presentation which was made at his school.
“I never really paid much attention because I never thought that would be me.”
Years later, after an accident left Manderville a paraplegic, he met Marlin again.
“Marlin taught me that yes, I have a disability, but I am not disabled. It was an honour to work with him. Red Deer is a better place for having Marlin in it.”
Manderville also announced that the Canadian Paraplegic Association’s annual golf tournament in Red Deer, now in its 16th year, will be renamed the Marlin Styner Memorial Golf Tournament.