I am blessed to have a number of inspiring and motivating Paralympians in my life who I call my friends. Some of them I have known since I was in high school, and some I have gotten to know in recent years. I have had the honour of playing goalball with and against the members of the Canadian Women’s Goalball team. I have run on the same path, although a few paces behind, members of the Canadian ParaAthletics track team. These experiences have helped me gain respect for them, and their counterparts as athletes.
What has had a more significant impact on my life has been the time I have spent with these friends out of the sports venue. The time in the coffee shop chatting, or in a theater watching a movie. The time we sit in each others living rooms playing cards or relaxing in front of the television. We have been with each other for graduations, weddings, and first jobs. We have been with each other as we have developed as athletes, and into adults.
As a friend of a Paralympic athlete, there are many times when training and competition is a priority. As a friend it means I must alter my time with them so that they can reach their athletic potential. Nights end early, plans are made according to training schedules, and I say goodbye and send well wishes frequently as they depart for another tournament or training camp. It is well worth it when I see my fiends succeed and reach their goals.
This summer I spent a lot of time watching the Olympic games. I thought forward to the Paralympic games, and was excited to think of watching my friends reach the ultimate goal they have been striving towards for years, participating in the Paralympic games. They started to depart for their adventures, one by one. I planned and attended send of parties, had final coffee dates, and send my well wishes. I was so excited for them.
As the opening ceremonies drew near, I looked up the broadcast information and discovered it would not be broadcast live, and that it was a shortened program. This was a little disappointing, but I still planned my evening to watch it and share another moment with them. When I sat down that night in front of the TV, I was very disappointed. It was not being broadcast on the mainstream channels. The channel I watched it on barely showed the entertainment portion, and focused on the parade of nations. I received texts from friends who couldn’t watch it at all as they did not have the channel.
My phone began to buzz with tweets and Facebook messages from friends who were disappointed with the lack of attention and respect the ceremony, and our friends, were being given by Canadian Media. The games will receive a 1 hour recap of television coverage a day. If you have internet access, you can watch on your computer, but you will not find goalball, bocce, or a number of other sports which are not being covered. I want to support my friends. I want our country to support them. I want the world to support them. It shouldn’t be this hard.
So how will I support my friends on this final leg of their journey? I am cat and dog sitting for them while they are away. I will encourage them using Facebook and Twitter. I will share their stories with anyone who will listen. I will watch what I can online. I will do all that I can to support their dream, even if I cannot observe the dream coming true.