Dan’s trip to Columbia changed his life in two ways. A freak, near fatal accident in the Amazon left him paralysed. His survival and the generosity of people around the world inspired him to start a charity in the country. He recounts his incredible story of survival against the odds, his determination to regain control of his life, and how despite everything he continues to work to help those in poverty in South America.
Dan Eley is the founder of a charity which aims to provide education and opportunities to children in some of the most impoverished, troubled parts of South America. His achievement is made all the more impressive as just a few years before he started the organisation, he broke his neck, leaving him paralysed and fighting for his life.
Whilst travelling around South America, a freak accident in the Amazon left Dan hospitalised and paralysed from the shoulders down. Doctors were not optimistic, suggesting he would never walk or use his hands again, and that his quality of life would be severely impaired. After three heart attacks his family were advised to consider a ‘do not resuscitate’ order.
Dan survived a fourth cardiac arrest and started to deal with what lay ahead of him. Stranded in a Bogota hospital ward, friends and family started an online appeal to repatriate him. Thousands of people around the world with no connection to Dan raised £100,000 to get him back to the UK and helped inspire him to look positively at his situation.
After months of gruelling rehabilitation, Dan started to regain the use of his arms, something doctors suggested would be impossible. He now had to consider what to do with his life. His experience had changed him physically, but also emotionally. He considered the chances he had rather than the restrictions he faced. He took the determination that had seen him through a year of lying in a hospital bed and focused it on helping others. He now runs the The Dan Eley Foundation, making visits to projects in Columbia and elsewhere in South America, raising funds, and using technology to stay in touch with projects and those they’re helping.
In his presentations, Dan tells his inspiring story of overcoming apparently impossible obstacles. He explains his new-found philosophy of how happiness and fulfilment is an experience to undergo, not a target to aim for, and what it takes to find that regardless of the challenges we face.
Dan has received many awards and accolades for his work and inspiration, including a UN Happy Hero medal. He was a London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer, carrying the flame down his local high street in front of over 25,000 people.
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The Chartered Institute of Housing's South West Conference