Burn victim eager to get on with life

Ralph Henke is being hailed as an inspiration six years after he was severely burned in a Zamboni explosion.

Henke was getting ready to resurface the ice at Donnan Arena, when the Zamboni blew up. He suffered burns to more than 90% of his body and spent two years in hospital.

"I remember it was really hot and I was screaming I didn't want to die," says Henke, 33.

He lost his right hand in the explosion and the rest of his body will be scarred forever. But he's looking forward to going back to school and wants people to look past his appearance.

"I can understand why people would be scared and I think that's why it's really important that I get out there," says Henke. "There are some people in the community with a disability and we shouldn't be scared of them."

Dr. Ted Tredget, head of the burn unit at the University of Alberta Hospital, says Henke suffered some of the worst burns he's ever seen.

"He's a young man; a large part of his recovery was due to the fact that he was a very fit, healthy person," he says.

Tredget calls Henke an inspiration and says other burn victims can learn from his approach to life.

"I think my outlook is really good on life," says Henke. "I'm really grateful that I have each and every day and I try to take hold of each and every day. I have little goals, little, tiny goals to set up the big goals."

Henke says his long-term ambition is to return to work full time, perhaps in the communications field.