He loved to ride fast, horses and cars. ‘He was always saying “Get up! Stop crying. Don’t be a baby.” ’
Chad Marjan (a.k.a. Buddy Jack Anderson) was born in Saskatoon on Nov. 5, 1980, the only son of Glenn and Holly Anderson. He was an energetic child, the type who hated school and everything else indoors. He drank carrot juice and apple juice, not because he enjoyed the taste, but because he was allergic to dairy products. When he was eight, his parents divorced and his mother remarried. After the wed-
ding, Buddy adopted the surname of his stepfather, Bill Marjan. He also changed his first name to Chad, although nobody quite remembers why. “He just always liked that name,” his mother says.
Chad and his younger sister, Elizabeth, moved with their mother and new stepfather to an acreage near Martensville, a rural community just north of Saskatoon. When he was 14, he bought his first horse—a red roan Appaloosa named Chief. Chad loved to ride fast, and it was only a matter of time before he was barrel racing at local fairs. During summer afternoons in the backyard, he would often tie an inner tube to the back of his horse and drag his little sister through the grass. “We used to do that all the time until I ended up hitting a fence post,” she recalls. “He was always a risk-taker. I wouldn’t be as tough as I am now if it wasn’t for him. He was always the one who said: ‘Get up! Stop crying! Don’t be a baby!’ ”
Chad loved cars almost as much as horses. Before he even had a driver’s licence, his stepfather bought him a
pickup truck—a i960 Apache half-ton. Like his horse, Chad drove his new car as fast as it would go. “He loved to push the limits,” says Ryan Morrison, his best friend. When he was 18, Chad was driving his Ford pickup down a gravel road when the axle snapped. Shaken, he vowed to never again buy a Ford. His bedroom walls—or at least the parts not covered with Toronto Maple Leafs posters—became a shrine to Chevrolet. He owned so many Chevy ball caps, his family says, that he could have worn a different hat every day of the week. “He felt that Fords were bad luck for him,” his mother recalls. A year later, however, Chad put aside his hatred and bought another Ford, a red and gold F-150 pickup with a price tag too low to pass up. He was behind the wheel, spending time with some friends, on Oct. 22,2000. “They were drinking and partying and they thought it would be fun to go drive the truck around in a field,” his mother says. None of the four men was wearing a seat belt, and when the
truck flipped, Chad smashed through the back window.
His brain bled so heavily that his head swelled. “You couldn’t even see his eyes or nose or mouth because it was so swollen,” Holly recalls. Six weeks later, when Chad awoke from his coma, he was unable to move the left side of his body. He was hemiplegic, the result of a stroke. His family struggled to re-teach him the basics of life. How to eat. How to go to the bathroom. How to talk. It was a daunt-
ing task, but Chad was determined to walk again. Physiotherapists—first at Saskatoon City Hospital, then at Star Rehab Centre—worked for years to improve his balance and muscle control, stretching his arm and leg and spending untold hours in the pool. “He was so positive,” recalls Kim Closson, Star Rehab’s manager. “He went from being in a wheelchair to walking with a cane.” He even mustered enough strength to ride his horse again. Last year, Chad volunteered to tell his story to teenagers. “Think about what you’re doing,” he would often say. “Don’t be stupid.” On Thursday, Aug. 17, Chad began his day as always. He woke up at 9, drank a large glass of water, then walked a quarter-mile on his treadmill. After a bowl of Vector cereal and a cigarette—Canadian Classic Light—he took a shower and fed his dog, K-9. He spent much of the afternoon tinkering with his 1966 Chevy II, a car he one day hoped to drive if his health allowed it. That night, after dinner and another ride on the treadmill, he steered his motorized
scooter down the driveway, K-9 by his side. Their destination was a gas station a few kilometres away, where Chad often bought smokes and a Pepsi and chatted with the clerks behind the counter. It was nearly dark when he headed home, careful to keep his scooter on the right shoulder.
Shortly after 10 p.m., Holly, who knew her son’s routine as well as anyone, left the house to bring him a jacket. In the distance, she saw another set of headlights slowly approaching. “Every once in a while, Chad would bounce up,” Holly recalls, saying it looked as if the driver was purposely rear-ending the scooter. Moments later, Chad was lying underneath the car—a Mercury Grand Marquis built by Ford Motor Company. He died three hours later. Police are now investigating reports that the unnamed driver, who was fined $140 for not having a valid driver’s licence, threatened Chad during an argument at the gas station.
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