My journey has taken me to Team Canada with the hopes of securing a spot at the Paralympic Games in Rio. I hope that my story can enlighten others about the devastation that meningococcal disease can cause, and also show others going through similar situations that you can do anything once you set your mind to it.
Would you have children knowing it would leave you with only three per cent of your sight? It sounds like one of those dark "would you rather" games you play when you're getting to know someone. In Victoria Nolan's case, it was a very real decision that left her depressed and feeling like she could not be a strong role model for her children.
If we can learn one thing from the Parapan Am athletes, it's that we can fulfill our dreams and find greatness in the most difficult and unconventional of circumstances. But we need to believe in ourselves, first and foremost. Then we need to follow through with hard work and grit. The Toronto Parapan Am Games will be the largest ever held, with more than 1600 athletes from 28 countries. Attend the Games to support the athletes but, more importantly, to be inspired and empowered by them.
Sadly, in the case of the Paralympians, the years of training and hard work will largely go unnoticed as the world focuses on the increasingly serious crisis. As the streets of Kiev became a battleground, and Russian troops entered Crimea, the predominant perceptions reappeared. The world quickly took back any slack they were willing to give Putin.
This particular show had their youngest daughter, Cindy, about eight years old, dealing with a bully, Buddy Hinton, making fun of her lisp. When she complains to mom and dad, they tell her to "fix" her lisp by taking books out of the library with lots of "s's" in them, and reading them out loud. They wanted HER to fix HER own problem.
I'll admit it: I went with preconceived notions about what I was going to see. I imagined a souped-up high school track and field meet. Everyone gets a ribbon. People politely applaud even when an athlete's performance isn't what they're used to seeing at the Olympics. The reality couldn't be further from the truth.