7:30 a.m., Jan. 25)
paralympian an inspiration to us all
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans para-athlete Kimberley Fawcett has managed
to overcome the loss of her leg and the death
of her son to become a world class athlete and
an inspiration to the physically disabled and
able-bodied alike. Fred Sherwin/Photo
43, Kimberley Fawcett is an athlete, a soldier and a world
traveller. She's served twice in Afghanistan and has competed
on the international stage in three world championships
on three different continents. She also just happens to
be an amputee.
and sadly, Cpt. Fawcett didn't lose her leg in combat.
She lost it while stationed in Kingston in 2006. She was
walking with her nine-month-old son Keiran when they were
struck by a careless driver.
Fawcett's pant leg got caught on the vehicle's front grill,
and they were dragged underneath. When the car came to
an abrupt stop, she was thrown forward into a concrete
being rushed to the hospital, she was placed in an induced
coma for four days. When the doctors revived her, she
found out that her leg had been amputated just above the
knee. But there was worse news to come, Keiran was thrown
from her arms during the crash and was killed instantly.
the horrific accident and the loss of her son, Cpt. Fawcett
decided to honour him by learning how to walk and run
and take the steps Kieran never got a chance to take.
figured I lost my leg because Kieran needed it more than
I did," says Cpt. Fawcett, who is currently living
in Orléans. "He was just learning to pull
himself up to stand when the accident happened."
Fawcett barely started rehab when her dreams and aspirations
grew far beyond merely learning how to walk with a prosthesis.
She was determined to get back to work as soon as possible
and did so within six months. She left rehab after just
two months and started working out with her husband Curtis,
who is also in the military.
done several triathlons together before the accident,
they decided to set a goal for Kimberley to compete in
a para-triathlon with Curtis as her handler. The first
time she competed was at the World Championships in Vancouver
in June 2008.
didn't go very well. I had a terrible prosthesis that
was poorly-fitted. It wasn't a good time," says Cpt.
the difficulties she had to deal with in Vancouver, Cpt.
Fawcett continued to compete with sub-par equip.m.ent that
made each step extremely painful.
life change forever, however, when several of her fellow
para-athletes told her about Eric Schaeffer who designs
and manufactures competitive prothesis in New York through
a company called A Step Ahead.
saved my life. There's no question he gave me a reason
to live and to want to try harder," says Cpt. Fawcett.
weeks of being fitted with a set of new prothesis -- one
for running and one for cycling -- her times started dropping
dramatically. At the 2010 World Paratriathlon Championships
in Budapest, she won a bronze medal, cutting her time
in Vancouver by more than half.
past summer she placed fourth at the World Championships
in Beijing, finishing in a respectable time of 2.20:39
despite being thrown off her bike which likely cost her
another bronze medal.
the lead-up to the World Championships, Cpt. Fawcett took
up sprinting with an eye on qualifying for the Paralympics
this summer in London.
a mere six weeks of training she set a new Canadian record
in the 100 and 200-metres for single amputees above the
each competition, Cpt. Fawcett is accompanied by her husband
Curtis, who is also an accomplished triathlete, and a
picture of their son Kieran who has been with her every
step of the way.
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," says Cpt. Fawcett. "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."
Cpt. Fawcett has her sights set on the Paralympics in
London this summer, she has a more immediate goal waiting
for her in Africa.
weekend she will be boarding a plane with several fellow
adventurers bound for Tanzania, where she plans to climb
Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money and awareness for a new
charity she has launched called the ParAthletes of Canada.
goal of the organization is to provide athletes with physical
disabilities, and especially female athletes, with the
equip.m.ent they need to participate in their chosen sport
on a competitive level.
are lots of programs out there aimed at introducing people
with physical disabilities to sports, but nothing to help
them take it to the next level," says Cpt. Fawcett.
motivating factor for the climb is to inspire other women
with physical disabilities to do more; to set goals and
goal, really, is to inspire people." says Cpt. Fawcett.
"Dare to dream the extraordinary and amazing things
story was made possible thanks to the
generous support of our local
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