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Thread: Physical ability not key to quality of life, athlete tells children

  1. #1

    Physical ability not key to quality of life, athlete tells children

    Physical ability not key to quality of life, athlete tells children
    Paralympian Smith visits IWK hospital with message of inspiration for kidsÂÂ*
    Special to The Daily News
    Friday, November 29, 2002

    Kelly Smith actually wears his heart on his sleeve.

    Attitude is Everything! is blazoned across both sleeves and the body of his bright yellow jersey.

    "The absolute, most important thing is that what you believe, and the attitude you project, will have a greater effect on your life than anything else," says the 37-year-old paralympian and Canadian wheelchair-race record holder.

    "Your level of physical ability does not determine the quality of life."

    Smith, who is partially paralysed below the waist as a result of a 1991 climbing accident, visited the IWK Health Centre yesterday to address patients and community members.

    Sydney Paralympics

    He began wheelchair racing in 1996, represented Canada at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney and is training for the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.

    "I didn't think I would enjoy wheelchair racing," he recalls.

    "I didn't think it was fast enough or crazy enough. But it's been my greatest adventure."

    Before his accident, Smith was a commercial pilot and avid sports enthusiast, dabbling in mountain-climbing, skydiving and windsurfing.

    Losing the use of his legs presented challenges that he and friends overcame using both conventional and creative methods.

    "My brother duct-taped my feet to the pedals of a mountain bike and gave me a push," he says with a wry smile.

    "I ended up in the ditch taped to this bike way too often."

    200 kilometres a week

    When he isn't out training - sometimes covering more than 200 kilometres in a week in his wheelchair - Smith also skis, boogie-boards, climbs and white-water kayaks.

    He says the benefits of an active lifestyle cannot be underestimated, and that more needs to be done in Canada to provide access to athletics for the disabled.

    "If you get one disabled person active and confident, they're less of a burden on the system than if they're at home collecting disability insurance," he says.

    "If you're doing research, you get funding, but if you ask for a wheelchair, you'll have to steal it. We need to shift the focus a little away from the research to help these people live - now, today."}

  2. #2
    I'm not sure how this board works, but hopefully this reply goes under the right subject. Kelly is a good friend of mine, and is quite an inspiration to everyone who knows him. I think it's really important for anyone who has a chance to go out there, and inspire anyone they can....follow Kelly's example, because I've seen what sort of effect he has on others with SCI, me included, and I hope I can have that sort of effect on others too.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jeff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Argao, Cebu, Philippines

    Since when is the focus on research?

    The media doesn't cover the billions spent on health care so the droppings that research actually gets should be cut? Give care spending an extra ONE PERCENT by stealing the future away from all those waiting for a cure?

    This guy is probably a fine athlete and an inspiration to many but his reasoning in the cure category is screwed up. If he were a high quad instead of a partially paralysed para would he have the same outlook?

    I'd love to meet the guy. But I think he would not like to meet me. His skiing, boogie-boarding, climbing and white-water kayaking view of paralysis would certainly be challenged. What a friggin idiot. IMO.

    ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~

  4. #4
    I agree this guy sounds like an idiot. If everyone were a para and able to be as phsically active as him I might agree with him to some extent. I guess this guy has never met or has no empathy for a high quadriplegic who can't "benefit from an active lifestyle" and needs the research for a cure just to hopefully atleast be able to feed, dress,etc. themselves again someday.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2002
    calgary alberta canada earth
    Kelly came to Calgary and visited me in the hospital, he tells a great story! He had just finished the Boston Marathon. He is an air traffic controller so we had a lot to talk about.

    Great guy


  6. #6
    jeff and JT,

    It is just hard for me to understand why there is this horrendous misconception that research is taking money away from purchase of wheelchairs. It depresses me to no end to know that good people can think that moving the focus from research will buy more wheelchairs for people. It just will mean there will be more people who need wheelchairs.

    This misconception is so pervasive. When will people understand that we are not dealing with a zero-sum game here. Money taken away from research is not likely to go into care. Even if it does, it will be a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed. If we spend $5000 per wheelchair to buy 100,000 new wheelchairs for a third of the people with spinal cord injury, that adds up to $500,000,000!



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