As a ten year old kid I loved to play hockey. After playing the 2002/2003 season with Arnpriors Rep team the Packers, I was determined to play the next season on the team. I started training for the season in June at the Scotia Bank Place doing some off ice conditioning. Shortly after this conditioning started I developed a bump on my left leg. Thinking nothing other than a sports injury my parents decided getting an x-ray would be the smart thing to do. Shortly after this x-ray was taken my whole family was sitting in the waiting room wondering why we got called away from work and school. My doctor informed me that I had a cancerous tumor in my leg and that is what was causing the bump. I was quickly rushed to CHEO to have a biopsy done to double check my doctors theory. I am very fortunate that our family doctor caught the tumor when he did.
Shortly after this biopsy was taking I was then admitted to CHEO and begun my chemotherapy treatments. These are treatments I do not wish on anyone but in the end saved my life. After three months of chemotherapy I then had a very hard choice to make for now an eleven year old kid. I had to decide between three surgical options. The first being the most popular and safest, an above knee amputation, the second being a metal rod put in to replace the bone which has many complications and surgeries to achieve, or the third a van ness rotation. I went with the third option not for the look but for the fact that I would be able to play hockey again. A van ness rotation is when my ankle is rotated 180 degrees and replaces my knee. This allows for very similar motion to a knee joint and allows for me to be much more active. Imagine my heel being my new knee cap. This was a 12 hour surgery and was a success.
I had a few more months of chemotherapy to go through and another surgery and then I was done. In that time I was determined how to walk again and once I received my artificial leg I started going to physiotherapy. By then end of my treatment, April 12 2004, I was walking without crutches. When my treatments were done and my strength started to come back I was back out on my bike with my friends that summer. That winter I got involved in non-body contact hockey and started to learn how to snowboard. It felt great to be active with my friends again and I knew I made the right surgical choice.
The following year I started back into competitive hockey and loved every moment until the end of grade nine. At that time I was working a part time job and was finding it very difficult to commit to a hockey team besides I knew I wasn’t going to be making money in the NHL so I had to get it somehow. With work and no more hockey I focused more on my snowboarding because I could get out to the hill on my own time and didn’t have to commit to a team. I started to really love snowboarding and got to the hill every chance I could. I started racing with my high school and enjoyed four amazing years of competing around Ontario, and actually doing pretty good (first and second was a common placing). My final year on the team our new coach asked me where I was going to take my snowboarding career. Thinking that I didn’t have a career in snowboarding I informed her that it would become a past time of mine. When she learned of my artificial leg I was put in contact with Para Snowboard Canada. I was invited to a World Cup in Lake Louise to see how my snowboarding skills were on a world level.
After saving and fundraising some money my dream had come true and I was on a flight out west. This was my first boardercross race so I was very nervous but excited to show what I had. At the 2011 World Cup in Lake Louise I placed 5th in the world and 1st in Canada. I impressed the Para Team so much I was then invited out to Whistler to try out for the team. I made the team and when into the 2011/2012 season as a Para National rider. At the World Championships in France I placed 8th and at the World Cup in Nakiska Alberta, Canada I placed 8th again. I had a great season and learned a lot into what it takes to be a national athlete.
In May of 2012 I received an email that would change my life. Snowboarding had made it into the 2014 Para Olympics in Sochi Russia. I was so excited and was determined to make it to 2014. I increased my training and decided it was time to be a full time athlete. I then flew out to Whistler in June of 2012 to try out for the 2014 team. All my training had paid off and I made the 2014 Para Olympic Team.
I am now living a full time athlete part time student life and loving every minute of it. My training has increased and I try to do everything possible to get prepared for the 2012/2013season. I long board, mountain bike, and trampoline when I am not in the gym or in class.
My goal is to bring a metal home for Canada from the 2014 Para Olympics.
I would not have been able to do this journey on my own. My Family has been by my side through everything. From holding my puke bucket at CHEO, tying my skates, driving me to the hill, to helping me afford a place in Whistler so I can train full time during the 2012/2013 season. I want to thank my Mom, Dad, and sister for everything they have done for me and all the support they have provided me with.
I live in the best place in the world. Arnprior Ontario is the best place in the World and will always be my home. During my treatments I had the whole town at my back supporting me in every way possible. I would receive cards in the mail, come home to a clean house, and receive checks from fundraisers they had organized for my family. I am so lucky to have grown up in such an amazing place. With my journey to the 2014 Para Olympics I know they have my back again. I can count on them for not only financial support but having the best fans/supporters a person could ask for. I hope to make them proud!
I would like to thank my sponsors who have always been there for me. Being an athlete is not a cheap life. Purchasing equipment, paying for flights, race fees, and training are all very expensive and I have received a great amount of support.
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