An edited version of the following article appeared in The Ottawa Citizen on Sunday, September 23, 2001
Team gets a warm Western welcome
Mike Nemesvary, a former champion freestyle skier, is attempting to become the first quadriplegic to drive around the world - a 40,000 kilometer trek to raise funds for spinal cord injury research and rehabilitation.
The Team has returned to Canada for the final leg of the Challenge and is expected back in Ottawa on October 23, 2001. Members of the Challenge road team, Gina Manion and Lucy Muggridge write this week's article.
The Team has moved on from Vancouver, through Kamloops, Calgary, and Regina where they enjoyed incredible support from the Canadian Paraplegic Association and the enthusiasm of the communities.
The Calgary visit began with the incredibly horrible news from the United States and in light of the tragic events, the Team and Calgary Committee cancelled the planned sailing adventure on the Glenmore Reservoir and shortened the evening reception. Mike told the small group at the reception that "our hearts go out to our friends and neighbours in the United States. I've met many people throughout the world that have been victims of violence . We have many reasons to be grateful for living in Canada, including access to research and rehabilitation."
Mike and the Team were amazed with the efforts and excitement from the Regional Calgary Committee of the RWC, chaired by Barry Lindemann of the Canadian Paraplegic Association (CPA). Barry arranged for Mike to be officially welcomed in Calgary with the traditional "White Hat" ceremony by former Saddle-Bronc champion Duane Daines, who was felled by a rodeo accident in 1995.
Barry further honoured Mike by saying "To the Canadian Paraplegic Association and our members across Canada, Mike serves as a shining example as to what people with disabilities can accomplish with perseverance, today's technology, and support from one's family, friends and the community at large. His journey will inspire our members to make the most of their lives, whether it be going after the career they have always wanted, or planning a great adventure of their own."
The Team made the long drive from Calgary to Regina, where Don Shalley and Del Huber of the CPA met them. The visit was full of excitement as the CPA National Wheelchair Relay took place on the second day. Our Team took up the challenge and filled a couple of wheelchairs - doing the RWC proud with a fourth place finish!
Don arranged for the Team to visit the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre where Mike met with people of all ages with varying degrees of disabilities. It was a beautiful facility and the staff was amazing. Mike spent a couple of hours visiting with residents and enjoyed some one-on-one time with patients.
The Canadian Paraplegic Association had also arranged events in Brandon and Winnipeg, Manitoba, led by Audrey McIlraith, Executive Director. The highlight of these visits was the official welcome by the Province and the CPA at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. The day was spent Over three hours was spent talking with media, medical professionals and residents. Mike was invited back the next day to tour the research facilities and to discuss the strides being made in spinal cord injury research, and how the latest medical technology is assisting researchers.
The Team is incredibly grateful to all the groups of volunteers and who have made us so welcome as we make our way home. And our excitement continues to build as we move into Ontario this week. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the remainder of the schedule is as follows:
Thunder Bay: Friday September
To get involved or to donate to the Round The World Challenge, please visit our web site at http://www.roundtheworldchallenge.com or contact the office at 613-274-7955.