Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Paralympians..the real heroes

If non NHL players at the Olympics sometimes suffer from little media attention, what about our Paralympic athletes? Just how much attention do we give these people? Unfortunately I'm not able to follow Canada's Paralympic team on TV, while in the U.S., but  CBC does have a good Paralympics site.

A couple of weeks ago, while listening to an interview on CBC radio's show, C'est La Vie, I suddenly realized that I know someone who is competing at these games; Caroline Bisson.

Four years ago I took a creative writing course at a neighbourhood bookstore, with Ottawa author, Richard Taylor. (Unfortunately this store, like so many independent bookstores has since closed.) Anyhow it was a small group. We enjoyed each other's company and writing. One of the members of that group was Caroline. I remember her as a friendly and confident person. To be blunt, it is not often that you meet a young person who is missing an arm. Caroline never gave the impression that anything was out of the ordinary. It is only now, that I have heard the  recent interviews, that I realize that she had undergone her life-changing surgery only a year before I met her in that group. If that was me and I had faced cancer and the amputation of my left arm, shoulder and part of my rib cage, there is no way that I would have been  cheerfully participating in a writing group, besides  holding down a job. No, I would have been at home,  feeling sorry for myself for a very long time. However, Caroline is obviously made of stronger stuff. Here she is in 2014, having qualified to compete in both the biathlon and cross country ski events at Sochi.

In that radio interview Caroline shared valuable insights about Paralympic athletes and all people with physical disabilities.  She wants people to know that "people with physical differences are able to achieve great things." She sees the Paralympics as "an opportunity to celebrate life." She noted that  "the athletes at these games have all overcome serious traumatic events. They have shown determination to overcome whatever happened to them, before they ever started to train for their event."

 Caroline is not counting on winning a medal. She is there to compete to the best of her ability. From the CBC schedule, it looks like her events will start today. I hope she has a great day and totally enjoys the experience.

                                         Caroline Bisson, from a recent CBC TV interview

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