“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,” political activist, Helen Keller, said.
This quote embodies the whole message Riley Dunda tries to inspire to his Instagram and Twitter followers.
Growing up in Ontario, Canada, Dunda was just like any young boy, learning to skate and play hockey alongside his younger brother, Liam.
“I was about four, or three, and my dad took me out to go skate when we lived in Brantford, and then I just liked it so much he kept putting me in hockey, and then I played AAA at eleven years old, and then it just kind of grew from there,” Dunda said.
Throughout his brief hockey career, Dunda played for the Georgetown Raiders, Burlington Cougars, and the Hamilton Red Wings of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL), and the St. Catharines Falcons of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOHL).
While a part of the Raiders at the start of the 2012-13 season, Dunda played in 21 games, while recording one goal and two assists for three points.
“It was the first time I played junior hockey after getting drafted by Sudbury, so that was kind of special, to be on a team, and then December came along, and I wasn’t playing a lot,” Dunda said about being apart of Georgetown.
While apart of the Falcons, Dunda played in 35 games, while recording one goal and eight assists.
“I got a phone call from the Junior B team in Niagara, and went there, and ended up going to the Sutherland Cup,” Dunda said.
The following season, Dunda joined the Cougars, played in 35 games, recording nine goals and eight assists for 17 points.
“We got shut out for seven games straight when I played on Burlington, which was embarrassing, and then in the eighth game, I scored, and I went to my coach the next day, and I was like, I love my time here in Burlington, but I kind of want to play for a team that wins, so then he shipped me off to Hamilton,” Dunda said.
While part of Hamilton, Dunda played in 11 games, while recording three goals and two assists for five points.
“He shipped our whole first power play, so it was a do-over for Burlington. And then, Hamilton, I loved everything the minute I was on that hockey team,” Dunda said.
Following his stint with Hamilton, Dunda suffered a stroke.
On May 3, 2014, at the age of eighteen, Dunda collapsed in his family’s home, and was rushed to hospital. Doctors performed a clot retrieval procedure, that, essentially, saved his life.
He woke up surrounded by family and friends, but had limited mobility on the right side of his body.
“It was hard. Like, there were times of depression, and there were times that I just thought that, all I really knew was hockey, and to have that taken away from me, to have that stripped away, is a challenging thing to overcome, and, honestly, I think I just overcame it about four months ago,” Dunda said about the recovery process.
“And, it was hard, cause the right side of my body wasn’t developed at the same rate as the left side of my body, and I was getting frustrated. And then I turned to drugs and stuff, and obviously that didn’t work out for me, so, then I ended up taking a look at myself in the mirror. And it’s a tough road, it has its low points for sure,” he added.
One of the things that kept Dunda able to focus on healing, was his family and the fact that his parents are strong individuals and how they were there for him.
“There were good points and bad points. Obviously, the bad points were really bad, and my parents are really strong individuals. So, I just think that they dealt with it the best that they could, and I dealt with it the best I could,” Dunda said.
According to Dunda’s brother, Liam, the boys’ relationship is “more than just hockey,” and Liam has said that he’s proud of who his brother has become.
“If I could sum him up in one word, I would say resilient. Everything that he’s been through, and faced, and all the adversity that he’s faced, and challenges from stuff that were out of his control, and some things that he brought upon himself, but always resilient, and always fighting through every little thing that was thrown his way,” Liam said.
“Staying positive is another thing. It’s what he’s big on, and he’s been doing really well lately, and I’m really, really proud of who he is as a person, and who he’s become, and how hard he’s fought to get where he is today, so, to have an older brother like that to look up to, it’s pretty nice,” he added.
Dunda is currently 23 years old, living in London, Ontario. He has made a remarkable recovery in the past few years.
“Yeah, just the motivation to get up everyday. There are people in worse situations then what you’re going through. And I want people to know that, even though that day might be really tough, it has got to be done,” Dunda said about the advice he hopes to inspire people with.
Currently, Dunda posts inspirational video messages to his followers on Instagram, in order to reach out to people and show them that there is hope.
“I think that with the motivational quotes, that really, really drives home the intention that I have. I really want to get people to a better place, and have them know that even if they are in a bad spot, my DM’s, my twitter, my Instagram messages, my email, they can have it and I can just talk to them,” he added.
Despite the stroke being a huge adversity for Dunda to overcome, he feels that he has grown as a person due to what he has experienced.
“I’ve been through hardships. I’ve grown to accept a lot more things in life. That you don’t control it, sometimes it might be destiny, it might be you going down a bad path and coming back out, just looking at it, like, I got to do better next time,” Dunda said.
For the motivational quotes, Dunda’s Instagram followers send him DMs of quotes, and then he talks about the context of the quote and what it means to him.
“They’re just there to show people that even though there’s people out there who have had a stroke, had cancer, who have been through divorce, or, are kids that went through divorce, it’s okay,” Dunda said.
“The world continues on whether you like it or not, so, the good thing about doing that everyday, it just gets me up, it gets me going, and I really want to have that impact on someone,” he added.
As for the future, Dunda hopes that the motivational quotes that he’s posting will evolve into something bigger one day, and, he hopes he can work on the radio some day too.
“I want to work on the radio, and my dream would be that these motivational quotes everyday actually evolve into something, and the public speaking evolves into something as well. You take it one day at a time, that’s all you can take it,” Dunda said.