Great strides are being made in helping people recover after suffering traumatic brain injury, but often sheer determination on the part of the patient brings about the greatest progress.

In 1972, Mel Laine, a member of the Canadian Navy, was hitchhiking from Calgary to Edmonton when he was struck by a vehicle. The driver did not stop, leaving Laine in the road.

A second vehicle ran over the injured man. The driver stopped and called for help.

Laine suffered severe brain injury as a result of the collision.

Years of rehabilitation followed the incident with Laine’s mother Alice acting as his champion. Progress ensued and Laine was able to visit his former ship, the HMCS Columbia.

By the middle of the 1980s, Laine began supervised work at Easter Seals Camp Horizon. His time at the camp was followed by the start of a new job with the Venturers Society in Kananaskis in 1988, work he would continue for the next 24 years.

In 2012, Laine retired from the position and relocated to Calgary, but visits to his former stomping grounds continue to energize the senior.

“Freedom,” said Laine when asked what the Venturers Society meant to him. “I say that in a most generous way.”

Laine’s former co-workers are delighted to reunite with him and share memories.

“Every time we would make a mess of anything he would be just right there to clean up for us,” recalls Diego Seyer.

“If you were down he would make a smile on your face no matter how down you were,” said Candy Sedore. “He would help you clean and he would be right there for you.”

Ed Quiring, executive director of the Venturers Society, continues to hold Mel in high regard.

“He never complained,” said Quiring. “You know he was always happy to be out here enjoying life, being able to contribute, having friends.”

“Mel was just a joy to be around.”

For the way he's dealt with the blows life handed him, Mel Laine is this week’s Inspiring Albertan.

With files from CTV's Darrel Janz