Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 


I am a 33-year-old who grew up in Saint John, New Brunswick in a single parent household. At 16 I moved to Mississauga, Ontario and I currently reside there as well. I was never one to be involved in sports, but here I find myself involved on many different levels since I acquired my spinal cord injury and was diagnosed with Adhesive Arachnoiditis. My competitive sport of choice is athletics in F56 seated Shot Put, seated Discus, and seated javelin, at a national level and I am Internationally ranked. My noncompetitive sport of choice is Para Ice Hockey (aka sledge hockey), but I have competed in Wheelchair Basketball, and wheelchair racing. I am also the Director of Boccia and Multi-Sports for Cruisers Sports for the Physically Disabled, coach Boccia, run one of our two Multi-Sports programs as well as an Ambassador for Parasport Ontario.


Please share a story about an internal or external barrier you have faced.


As a child growing up I had many obstacles to overcome such as being bullied, making it through school with “severe” learning disorders, losing a parent, living in rough neighborhoods, and moving homes and schools several times.


Despite all life threw at me I was able to finish my high school senior year and college with honors. Shortly after landing my dream job as a Child and Youth Worker in a residential treatment center, I was in a car accident that changed my life forever. The accident began two years of severe back pain that later led to a disc rupturing in my spinal cord causing me to acquire an incomplete spinal cord injury leaving me with paralysis from the waist down. I spent 6 months between hospital and rehab with a total of 3 spinal surgeries. Despite severe pain, I fought for two years to learn to walk again, unassisted, in hope of returning to work again.

I would get the mobility back to walk again, but that was short lived as scar tissue began to settle in my spinal cord and my pain levels were horrific. I began to lose mobility which required the use of my wheelchair fulltime again, and was diagnosed with a rare condition called Adhesive Arachnoiditis (nerve root strangled by scar tissue). My neurosurgeon said there was no fixing my spinal cords damage and there was little information to be given. I was devastated. This is when the reality set in that I would not be able to return to my career in residential treatment. With no one able to tell me much about my new, rare condition I was left to google searches and Facebook support groups which can be a good, but scary place at the same time.


How did you overcome that barrier? What skills did you develop in sport that helped you overcome your barrier?


I was very closed off, but would talk to a younger gentleman I met while in rehab who competed in wheelchair track, and was a great support despite his own injury. I was fascinated watching his participation in parasports. He encouraged me to give it a try despite my fears and I figured I had nothing to lose by becoming active as all I knew was rehab, and weighed nearly 300 lbs. I began to lose weight which slowly helped build my confidence. It also began to get me out of my home and my bed into the community to get used to using my wheelchair. Through my first competition I found the sport of throwing and was hooked after the first throw. I now had something to begin to focus my energy on and start the healing process after I was blindsided. I began to get better at the sport and see the progress which helped raise my confidence more. I began to feel comfortable in my sport and began trying other sports, and meeting new peers while travelling to compete. My coaches began to see the potential I had, although I did not see it myself, and encouraged me to use my transferable skill as a youth worker to facilitate Multi-Sports which later led to directing the whole program and adding coaching Boccia to the list. You see sports is my life now. I eat, sleep and breathe sports. It has made me a better person while rebuilding my confidence, become more confident in my abilities, and helped me live a healthier lifestyle than ever before. When some people meet me, and hear my story they feel sorry for, me but I no longer feel sorry for myself. Even if I don’t achieve my ultimate goal of Paralympics I still feel like I have won a Gold Medal because I have been able to accept my disability, adapt, overcome and try to make the world a better place. If my injury never happened I would never be where I am today and I am quite content with my current life.


If you had one word to describe your character, experiences or philosophy what would it be? Why?




In life, no matter the situation or obstacle, you can always learn to adapt. Growing up I had many obstacles placed in front of me, but I always used my resiliency to challenge myself, adapt and conquer to reach my personal goals despite the odds, which is possible for you too!


If you wanted to motivate a young female athlete to #BuildHerUp, what quote would you use? Why?


“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.” Lao Tzu


It is a reminder that no matter where you are at in your life or what happens; all it takes is one step in the right direction to be further ahead than you were yesterday.


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