Council honours local Unconquered Warrior by Soldier On – a story of inspiration and perseverance

When Private Jeff Virgo became part of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), little did he know it would change his life.

On November 13th at Saugeen Shores Council meeting, Mayor Luke Charbonneau paid tribute to Virgo following his award as Unconquered Warrior by Soldier On.

“When I learned of his recognition I knew that I wanted Council to also be aware of his incredible achievement, and so I wrote a letter to Jeff asking him to be here,” said Mayor Charbonneau.

¬† Mayor Luke Charbonneau presents Certificate of Citizenship to Jeff Virgo (Armed¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Forces ret’d) – for larger view, Click on Image

Mayor Luke Charbonneau’s Letter

“It’s with pride and admiration that I, on behalf of the Town of Saugeen Shores Council, extend our congratulations to you on being honoured the 2023 Unconquered Award by Soldier On. This accolade recognizes your extraordinary journey and unwaivering commitment to inspiring others through your rejuvenation.¬† I also want to express our heartfelt gratitude for your service as a member of our Armed Forces. The Unconquered award signifies the embodiment of perseverance in the face of adversity. Your story is a testament to the Unconquered spirit and one that signifies adaption in overcoming obstacles and soldiering on all while serving as a source of inspiration for countless others.¬† Your personal battle against injury and the manner in which you have met this challenge head on proves your resilience but, what sets you apart Jeff, is not only your remarkable journey but your invaluable role as a role model.¬† On behalf of the Town of Saugeen Shores Council, we extend our sincere congratulations to you and we are fortunate to have you as a member of our community and we look forward to witnessing your continuing journey.”

Born and raised in Port Elgin, Virgo was a graduate of Saugeen District Senior School (SDSS), played junior hockey in Wiarton and, when he joined the Armed Forces, went to St. Jean Quebec for basic training before heading out to Wainwright, Alberta where he joined the PPCLIs, one of the three Regular Force infantry regiments of the Canadian Army of the Canadian Armed Forces.

From 2002 – 2007, as part of the Canadian Armed Forces, he was also involved with U.S. Rangers.¬† “I did a lot fun things,” says Virgo.¬† “I am afraid of heights but had to repel out of helicopters – don’t ask me to go on a roller coaster though!”

Private (ret’d) Jeff Virgo, while in training in Alberta, was involved in a vehicle roll-over that would change his life.

When the accident happened, he was a passenger in the military vehicle.¬† “All I remember is that we flew in the air and then ended upside down and I was pinned under the vehicle with a stabbing pain in my back. Rushed to the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, the young 21-year-old, was told that he was paralyzed from the waist down and would never walk again.

Little did the medical community know, that when someone told Jeff he couldn’t do something, it would work in exactly the opposite way.¬† “I was raised by my parents that hard work pays off and when someone tells me I can’t do something, I want to prove them wrong.”

            Jeff Virgo (C) with parents Grant and Linda Рfor larger view,                                                            Click on Image

Virgo said that the Armed Forces helped with his parents being able to come stay with him so that he could focus on getting better.

Not only did he get better but he became involved in Prince Harry’s Invictus Games, competing in 2014 and 2016 before becoming an Ambassador in 2017.¬† “I wanted to talk to youth and veterans or just people in the community about becoming active and that there is sport and recreation out there.¬† I just want to help out as much as I can whether it’s in the community where I live or the country itself. I like to enjoy things and don’t want to speed through life and just check the boxes.¬† I want to experience things and be able to provide that community support that’s my passion.¬† I didn’t want my injury to affect my outcome in life. I didn’t want a disability to hold me back and push me in a direction I didn’t want to go.¬† I chose the path I wanted to go.”

Today, Jeff Virgo is on the path that he chose.  He is a personal trainer at Lakeshore Recreation Centre in Port Elgin (Saugeen Shores) and, as an Invictus Games Ambassador, is a motivational speaker at various events and schools.