Robert Buren

Ironman, Canadian Paraplegic Athlete, Entrepreneur

Robert Buren

On October 5th, 2008, Robert broke his back in a mountain biking accident. Going from fully able-bodied to paraplegic in the prime of his life forced him to redefine the world and his place in it. He has a whole new appreciation for life, and how we all are trying to work our way through it.

The day he broke his back and lay on the forest floor waiting to be rescued, the one thing that he knew for certain was that he had to keep moving.

He defines himself first and foremost as a family man. He considers himself very lucky to have his wife and two daughters, and to be part of a large Dutch family, in which there is a lot of love, wholesome and delicious food, and the combined ability to build or fix anything imaginable.

He is happy on the stage. From a young age, attending the choir school in London, Ontario, he fondly remembers getting out in front and making himself heard. This continued into his university and business years. Since breaking his back he has had many great opportunities to share his story and what he has learned so far on this journey. From elementary schools and corporations, to NPOs and TEDx, he loves the challenge of adapting his message for the audience and values the feedback from attendees. His hope is that how he has responded to his accident can inspire others to make the most of the abilities that they have and encourage individuals to find their motivation to achieve whatever they set their minds to.

Soon after his accident, his friends started training for and completing triathlons. From sprint distance all the way to Ironman (226kms), he was inspired to see if he could do it too - with just his arms. Since breaking his back he's proud to say that he's completed countless races in all kinds of sports and distances, including 6 Half-iron distance triathlons and 2 Full Ironman competitions (making him the first Canadian Paraplegic to do so). Sports has been a huge part of his recovery, sanity, and his new identity.

When he's not doing something with his family, working out, or speaking, you can bet he is working on some business idea. Robert has always liked the satisfaction and accomplishment that comes from working hard. Starting with a paper route at the age of 10 and most recently working for Microsoft Canada and a small business he co-founded with a couple of friends in 2007, his career has been diverse and extremely rewarding.

Please contact us to book Robert Buren for your next event! 

  1. My Ironman Experience: Achieving what many think is impossible

    Four weeks after breaking his back in a mountain biking accident, Robert was doing laps around the hospital in a handcycle. He’s addicted to breaking boundaries and pushing his limits. With every bike ride and run in the racing wheelchair the distances got longer, but could he do what no other Canadian paraplegic had done before – the Full 226km IRONMAN Triathlon? Robert shares his 5 year journey from broken back to becoming an IRONMAN, and describes what goes on behind the scenes prior to completing the almost impossible IRONMAN World Championships in Hawaii in October 2016.

  2. Attitude is Everything

    During every moment of our lives we make a conscious choice on what to focus on. Is the glass half full or half empty? When presented with a problem, this decision is even more important. Do we resign to something being done to us, or find a way to overcome the barrier? Breaking his back has taught Robert to focus on finding ways to make the best of each day. The approach is simple; the challenge is in the execution. Robert will share his colourful story of how he became the first Canadian paraplegic to complete the 226km IRONMAN Triathlon and lessons learned along the way, so that you can redefine what's possible and find your motivation accomplish your dreams.

  3. The Key to Success: Motivation, Goals, Resolve

    Robert had accomplished a great deal by the age of 37: a graduate education, strong career, active hobbies and loving family. The biggest test of his life was put before him that fateful morning when he broke his back during a casual bike ride with a friend. Paraplegic, but determined to live life to the fullest, Robert has figured out the key to moving forward despite being faced with one of the biggest obstacles anyone can face. The principles around motivation, goals and resolve can be applied to anyone, and Robert will inspire his audience with a look into how he lives and breathes these principles every day.

  4. Accessibility: Breaking down barriers and doing the impossible

    The biggest barriers to accessibility are often in our minds. Assuming that someone with a disability can’t or won’t want to do something means that we can avoid finding a way to make it possible (it’s easy). Robert’s recovery from a broken back has been defined by doing what others think should not be possible. This started early on in the hospital and has extended all the way to the forest and the race track. Robert shares the best (and often funniest) stories of breaking down barriers and inspiring everyone to think outside the box of their current assumptions.

Robert’s inspirational and moving story was the perfect way to kick-off our YPO Event on Longevity, keynoted by the world-renowned Peter Diamandis. Robert’s ability to overcome a catastrophic injury to achieve something truly exceptional is a story that needs to be heard by more people around the world.
YPO – Santa Monica Bay, CEO of Supermoon.
Rob first presented to my class over 4 years ago, and from that first presentation I have specifically asked for him to come back every year. Rob’s ability to connect with the students is incredible. Year after year the students feedback is extremely positive on Rob’s presentations, they often don’t remember the content I teach them, but they certainly remember Rob and his compelling story telling. Sometimes the best lessons are learned from real life, and Rob brings real life to the classroom for my students.
University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
For the past 6 years Rob has been a part of the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s Changing Minds, Changing Lives program. With his passion for sport, successes as an athlete and insightful life experiences, Rob has educated and inspired a wide variety of audiences about the value of parasport participation and opportunities that exist for involvement. Whether it is to healthcare organizations, educators, parent & family groups, university/college courses, disability advocacy groups, municipal accessibility committees, recreation leaders, corporate audiences or other organizations that play a role in the lives of persons with a disability, Rob’s messages always resonate. He is a dynamic speaker who effectively engages audiences and communicates in a way that entertains, motivates and informs.
Canadian Paralympic Committee, Changing Minds, Changing Lives
Rob’s heart warming talk was clear and very well delivered. He flowed from one thought or event to the next seamlessly and I often found myself listening with excited anticipation to find out what happened next. I would highly recommend Robert Buren as a motivational speaker. He has so much to offer thru sharing his story and it should be heard by many.
TCoB President

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