Swim, bike, run, Paratriathlete by John Young

LP Paratriathlete John Young exiting the Hudson River at the NYC Triathlon

LP Paratriathlete John Young exiting the Hudson River at the NYC Triathlon in 2012

As far as I know, I am the only dwarf who has completed a triathlon. Maybe I’m not, but at least I have never been able to find another like-minded little person (LP). In the recent months I have had two members of the LP community contact me stating that they are training to complete their first triathlons later this summer. This past July I returned to NYC to race in the NYC Triathlon. As a new member of Achilles International, I race with other physically challenged athletes on the same course with able-bodied age group athletes and pros as well. The race itself was a challenge as most triathlons are. It includes a 0.9-mile swim in the Hudson River, a 26-mile cycle up and down the West Side Highway and then a 6-mile run up 72nd Street into and around Central Park. I had a terrific day on the course as the fan support in NYC is amazing.

On occasion, I search the Internet in order to try and find other short-statured people interested in multi-sports. I do so by entering phrases like “dwarf triathlete,” “dwarf cyclist” into search engines. The results I usually find are related to my own blog or online stories about me. Continue reading

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Finding Balance by Leona Emberson

Leona (on right) and her sighted guide (on left) racing to the finish line of a triathlon

Paratriathlete Leona Emberson (on right) discusses her journey in finding balance.

There are times in life when everyone needs a helping hand with one thing or another. When you have a disability, these times come more often, and the type of help needed can often be of a more personal nature. As children, it takes us longer to gain each step towards independence. We had to fight to overcome many obstacles and challenges to gain independence. Often we are told we cannot do it, or will never achieve independence.

From a young age I gained a reputation for being “stubbornly independent” I knew I could do it if I just tried hard enough, long enough. Even if it took me 10 times longer, I would do it. I felt I had to prove myself. I wanted to be like everyone else, so if my brother and friends could do it, I was determined I would do it too.  This resulted in a lot of frustration, some bruises and cuts, but most importantly this attitude gained me a sense of accomplishment. All of the small successes as a child gave me the confidence and determination to become an independent accomplished adult. Continue reading

Collaboration at Work by Shelley Ann Morris

I have been employed in the non-profit sector for the past twenty years.  I worked in the employment field, helping job seekers with barriers to prepare for, find and keep employment. My current position with Volunteer Ottawa involves assisting our member organizations to recruit volunteers. I also manage a group of volunteer public speakers who represent V.O. in the community. Occasionally, I facilitate workshops for people looking for volunteer opportunities.

I was born with limited vision.  Thankfully adaptive technology, education and a strong support system have helped me to conquer the barriers that visual impairment imposes. As I have some sight, my visual impairment creates very few limitations at work.

As a teenager, I felt excluded as many of my peers were already working and I was not.  A wise high school guidance counselor suggested that volunteering would be a good alternative.  Her sage advice helped me to develop the skills, experience, references and above all, the confidence that I needed to eventually take my own place in the world of work. Continue reading

Coming Out of the Starting Blocks by Jon Dunkerley

Jon Dunkerley (on left) & Guide Coming out of the starting blocks at a track race

I am a blind runner competing in a site classification reserved for those athletes with no, or very little site, thus I require a guide runner to help me navigate the track. This can pose some very unique challenges for sure, but when mastered, I’ve been told there is nothing sweeter to watch…

Yup, I am a blind 400meter runner and in just two short weeks, I’ll be jetting off to the UK to prepare to represent Canada in the Paralympic games, beginning in London on August 29th.

Competing as a blind sprinter comes with it, a host of unique challenges that when mastered at the elite level, can result in some ridiculously fast times being run. One of ‘said’ challenges that needs to be conquered before one can even consider running at a world class level is mastering the start. The start is the first component to a sprint race, and is hard enough to execute on your own, never mind tethered to a guide runner. Yeah I run with a guide runner, so not only do I have to be on the ball, but so does he. Continue reading