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Friday, August 1, 2014

World-Class Parathlete Kimberly Fawcett: : Runner Par Excellence


Meet   Kimberly Fawcett,   Canadian  parathlete and  slambang Bad Ass  Big Mama lording it up in the world of  parasports   who  simply rocks:  running through the great outdoors of beautiful nature in Winnipeg, Manitoba   with one good leg and an artificial limb,   enjoying every minute and getting ready for more of  her upcoming personal conquests   in the world of parasports. 

This June and July,  she has  just  finished  breezing  through a trio of events :   the PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships in Dalls, Texas,   the ITU  Chicago World Parathriathlon Event,   and  most  recently  last July 19th,  the Magog ITU  World Z Parathriathlon Event .

So who's saying she has some disability problems ?
Nobody can stop her. 

She's revving up for more  menacing  heft for  this upcoming late August 2014 event:  the ITU World Triathlon Series which " features world-class events all around the globe in which elite triathletes compete annually to become the ITU World Champion...  Edmonton will once again serve as host for the TransCanada Corp. World Triathlon Grand Finals ...  (an event which  will bring together athletes of all abilities, from rising phenoms to established veterans, Olympic medallists to weekend warriors."

What an amazing woman:  Fawcett fought through all the storms in her life and emerged victorious. And she made it seem so easy  exhibiting  her  strut-your-stuff  swag and chutzpah   like it's the most natural thing to do.

Being part of the Canadian Forces military, a career path she took to naturally being born to a family of  military folks,  she figured in an  accident in 2006  ironically  during her rest time with family when she was stationed  in Kingston -- in between her  wartime assignments.

She was walking home  and held her nine-month-old baby Kieran  when a reckless car driver broke loose and struck the mother-and-baby passers-by,   dragging the two underneath the vehicle,  and when the car came to an abrupt stop,   she was thrown to a concrete barrier ,  and her baby was also thrown from her arms.   It was a  life-changing memorable nightmare,  but the horrifying scenario  failed to paralyze her,  and further gave her more strength and courage to continue on what she wanted to do.

Fawcett  was unfazed and resilient: she continued her military career, ventured into  elite parasports  via  sitting volleyball, swimming , parathletics and paratriathlons  --- and  later bagged  two bronze awards  when  she competed in  two  World Paratriathlon Championships  held in Budapest in 2010, and in Beijing in 2012.     Her husband Curtis, also a Canadian soldier like her and a fellow accomplished triathlete,  supports her and helps her in  her training for the competitions,  bringing a picture of their baby Kieran in each competition   to serve as her inspiration.  

Kimberly Fawcett,  Canadian #ParaAthlete. #Amputee

Fawcett shares:    "Everything I do is in memory of him. When I came back from Budapest, I brought the medal to his grave and took a picture of it hanging on his grave marker. It was my way of celebrating it with him.   I can't tell you how many times he's been on my shoulder encouraging me to go on. If I didn't have that, I don't think I'd be able to keep going."

But it wasn't a  smooth ride:  the  period of  rehabilitation and recovery  was  a long and winding and arduous road,  and while  the rehab staff  aimed to make her functional,  Fawcett was aiming to be  exceptional.  The parasport  world looked alluring for  her ,   and  everything fell into place with  "angels"  helping her on her way to recovery  via  Penguins Can Fly Founder and swim coach Vicki Keith  who helped her become a brilliant swimmer,  and  further exposure to  the Wounded Warriors Program and the Challenged Athletes Foundation established her final resolve on her direction and destination.   

The raves  are endless,  talk about  bravura and  irreverent  swagger  and  courage-beyond-fear all rolled into one.  Simply overwhelming. 

Fawcett  holds an   officer position  in the Royal Canadian Air Force and  dubbed  as  an  "up-and-coming  national-level athlete in both paratriathlons  and paraathletics,  "pushing the boundaries of what was thought possible for people with disabilities."  She is leading at the forefront  of  parasports programs     ,  being the founder of  the Canadian Forces Injured Soldiers Network  -- and recognized as the first Canadian Forces member with an amputation to be deployed in the war in Afghanistan.

Fawcett,  touted as  an "excellent motivational speaker with a great story to tell",  is  leading the pack and  at the  the \helm as  founder  of  the ParaAthletes of Canada (PAC). Its mission:   "to provide opportunities and support for people with physical mobility challenges to pursue competitive or recreational sports for life.  Joining the PAC is to believe  that all sports in Canada should immerse and include athletes of all abilities in elite, competitive and recreational activities and who believe in living life without limitations."

In October 2012, she bagged  one of the biggest laurels for her:  earning the coveted title of  CTV 2012 Amazing Person of the Year.  And nobody could be more deserving. 

Kimberly Fawcett

Fawcett tells her story like it is: 

"It was an honor to say the very least , and it was completely unexpected.  The event was awesome, and the CTV organizing committee did an absolutely fantastic job of putting this event together.  We started off the evening at my place.  A bottle of Rose Moet and Chandon,  and  later we all  jumped into the car and headed to the Ottawa Convention Centre.   What an  amazing location!     We were greeted by a "Red Carpet" moment!   We were welcomed, ‘pinned’ and then photographed.  Champagne was overflowing  here,  and so,  of course we had to drink again! "

" It was a  very  nice reception,  and at the ballroom,  we sat at the Elizabeth Taylor table  --  since the theme was "Old Hollywood" and each table is named after a  Hollywood star.  With all the  entertainment and events I realized there are  so many talented and gifted people in Ottawa.  Who knew?  Well now I do.  As we began the first course of the meal,  the names of the top five  nominees were announced,  including mine.  Our table cheered as we ate our mushroom soup.  Just in time for the next course about 15 mins later,  CTV then showed the video for each of the top three nominees.  The third video happened to be mine.  My husband  Curtis grabbed my arm, shaking it back and forth in excitement.  I’m thinking to myself "Yahoo!"   I made Top  Three  and was quite happy to just eat my salad."

"Curtis turns his head and says to me, ‘Kim, I really think you should wait to eat your salad until they announce the name’.  I don’t think Curtis and I were on the same page at that point.  I’m thinking I’m starving and I want to eat and that it was a real honour to be named top three , so be happy and let's eat !!  "

"So in pops a spinach leaf and then it happened.   My name was called as the winner !!!  To my delight  --   and horror with spinach possibly stuck in my teeth -- my table screeched with excitement and surprise,   and I tried desperately to swallow the leaf and make my way to the stage.  It was a surreal moment for me.  Nothing I ever expected.   I am up there onstage receiving the  award and I am in complete shock.  I had a smile that was ear to ear,  and not a good smile either with red lipstick.  But who cares.  At that point I was just so honored and so happy, that I could do nothing else but smile."

"People were standing up, shaking my hand and congratulating me left, right, and center and I don’t think I stopped smiling or saying thank you for about the next three  hours.   I can say that I did get a few bites of dinner in me, and I did try and eat a slice of my dessert as a reward in celebration of this honor.  I also got up on the dance floor to jiggy to Gangnam style !!  Many thanks to the organizers, and all of my friends and family, and coaches who have supported these past six years.  A big thanks to the people of Ottawa for their support.  It truly means a lot to me."

And  also on the same month  of October 2012,  another  feather to Fawcett's cap: being inducted into the Canadian Forces Sports Hall of  Fame.     Her  energy  for life,  her positivity,  her  go-getting bravura   garnished  with   devil-may-care attitude   and slambang  courage and enthusiasm  for life   all  make things happen for  her.   And everything  always on large-scale.  

There's  nothing  mediocre for this Wonder Woman. And  you can hear the fireworks  miles away.  

"This came as a complete surprise,  although  I had hoped that one day ,  my name would grace this prestigious  group...  "A special shout out to Eric Schaeffer of A Step Ahead Prosthetics in NYC who helped me learn to live life without limitations.  Eric makes these amazing legs I wear; no more blisters, no more chaffing, no more ripped skin.  Yahooo!! "

"Also a big shout out to my family and my husband Curtis.  What a lot of people don’t know is that my story is not simply about triumph over trauma.   It's   about my relationship with my spouse and how that has grown into what it is today.  We persevered when most couples divorce particularly when it also involves the death of a child.  We did not.  It is because of Curtis and I have triumphed through  perserverence."

Fawcett's  voice reverberates:  her life of  bold audacity and  unstoppable quest for triumph and adventure hurls out inspiration for  everyone. 

"Never let anyone curtail your dreams.  Dare to dream big and then dare to dream to live outside the box.  I did and I do.  I am not mainstream because I choose to ‘make it happen’."

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