First Torchbearers

A total of 16 torchbearers, including 13 selected ambassadors from each Canadian province and territory, will run the first legs of the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay

Alberta

Dr. Robert Steadward will represent the province of Alberta as a torchbearer in the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa. An accomplished author, sport scientist, manager, counsellor, consultant and community volunteer, Steadward has been involved in sport his entire life.

Among his many volunteer positions, he is honorary president of the International Paralympic Committee, where he served as a founding president from 1989 to 2001. He is also a past member of the International Olympic Committee and an honorary life member of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

He founded the Steadward Centre at the University of Alberta — a fitness, research and lifestyle facility for people with disabilities — and is the honorary president. Steadward was chairman of accreditation for the 1978 Commonwealth Games and vice president of the 1983 World University Games, both held in Edmonton, Alberta. He was also a founder and co-chairman of the Edmonton bid committee for the 2001 World Championships in Athletics, executive board member for the 2005 World Masters Games and on the bid committee to host the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Steadward is the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and was awarded two honorary doctor of laws degrees from the University of Alberta and Leuven University in Belgium. He is also a recipient of an International Olympic Order and received a Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal.

Steadward has been inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Alberta Sport Hall of Fame and City of Edmonton Sports Hall of Fame. In 2004 and 2005, he was respectively appointed an Edmontonian and Albertan of the Century.

British Columbia

Rick Mercer will represent the province of British Columbia as a torchbearer in the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa. Broadcaster, comedian and commentator, Mercer has demonstrated through his career in television that he is an effective voice in supporting the Paralympic Movement and its values. He has significantly raised the profile of Paralympic sports through his work.

Saskatchewan

A seven-time Paralympian, Clayton Gerein has been a mentor and inspiration to many young wheelchair athletes. Gerein passed away shortly after carrying the Olympic Flame on January 9, 2010 after losing his battle with cancer. His daughter Jasmine will carry the Paralympic Flame in his honour as a torchbearer at the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa.

Over his 24-year Paralympic career, Gerein won seven gold, two silver and five bronze medals. A member of the National Wheelchair Racing Team since 1985, he has been recognized for numerous awards including: Commemorative Medal of the 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation for his significant contribution to Canada; 2001 Fred Begley Award for Outstanding Off-Track Athlete; and Sask Sport Inc’s Athlete of the Year in 1987, 1996 and 2001.

Gerein first competed in the Paralympic Games in 1984 in swimming. After watching some wheelchair competitions he switched sports the following year.

Gerein's involvement in sport has been more than as a competitor. He coached other wheelchair athletes; was a motivational speaker, presenting at schools and sports banquets; was the Saskatchewan coordinator for Bridging the Gap, an organization that introduces persons with disabilities to different sporting events; and was a board member of the Saskatchewan Wheelchair Sports Association.

Nova Scotia

An accomplished swimmer from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Chelsea Gotell will represent her province as a torchbearer in the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa.

One of Canada's top swimmers at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, she broke two world records in the 100-metre backstroke and 200-metre individual medley (IM). In the 200-metre IM, she was part of the Canadian medal sweep, winning gold. Gotell also won silver in the 100-metre freestyle and a bronze in the 100-metre butterfly and 400-metre freestyle.

Gotell won two gold, two silver and a bronze medal at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She also competed at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia and at the 2006 IPC Swimming World Championships in Durban, South Africa.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Eighteen-year-old swimmer Erica Noon will represent Newfoundland and Labrador as a torchbearer in the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa. A native of Stephenville on the west coast of Newfoundland, Noon competed at the 2009 Canada Summer Games in Price Edward Island bringing home three silver medals in the 200-metre individual medley, and 100-metre breaststroke and butterfly. She placed fourth in the 50-metre freestyle event.

Competing in swimming without the lower part of her right arm, Noon is the first athlete from the province to win three medals at one Canada Games and, as a flagbearer, led the team into the Closing Ceremony. In addition to being an athlete, she's also a pianist and works at a local gas bar.

Noon was recently selected to represent Canada in the Can-Am Para-Swimming Championships in March 2010 in Texas. The series of Can-Am swim meets brings Canadian and American swimmers with a disability together twice a year to compete.

Nunavut

An avid golfer, Simon Koomak will represent Nunavut as a torchbearer at the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa. With his condition of brittle bone disease, Koomak is unable to engage in contact sports, and walks with a limp as a result of numerous fractures throughout his youth.

In season, he plays golf at the community green near the airport runway. Koomak plays guitar and jams after school, teaching younger students along the way. He shares his musical talent within the community and he is always ready to play and accompany at his church. He is also a favourite performer at community dances.

Koomak’s advanced English allowed him to do a year-long community practicum coaching Grade eight students in English. In addition to sports, music and literature, Koomak is also a talented sketch artist.

His accomplishments, determination and enthusiasm are a positive influence in his school and he is a role model for youth.

Manitoba

Paralympian Jared Funk will represent his province of Manitoba in the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa. He has competed in wheelchair rugby for 15 years, winning a bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and a silver medal at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.

Funk is currently a community ambassador with the Royal Bank's Olympic and Paralympic Athletes program. When he is not competing, he often volunteers his time to speak with others about the challenges he has overcome. Funk and his teammates want to bring home a gold medal from the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Yukon

A tireless advocate for the rights of people with disabilities in his professional and volunteer endeavours, Rick Goodfellow will represent Yukon as a torchbearer at the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa. He is the executive director the non-profit organization Challenge Community Vocational Alternatives that provides employment support and training to people with disabilities in Yukon.

Goodfellow also manages Career Industries, a manufacturing business that trains and employs people with disabilities. His volunteering includes serving on the Yukon Human Rights Commission, chair of the Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee of the City of Whitehorse and co-chair of the Yukon Literacy Action Committee.

Goodfellow has played an active role in national organizations such as the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres as a board member-at-large and president. He currently serves on the national board of the Active Living Alliance of Persons with Disabilities. From 2003 to 2007, he played an active role as the chair of the Universal Access Committee for the 2007 Canada Winter Games. His efforts helped to ensure more accessibility to recreational facilities in Whitehorse.

Known for his creative problem-solving approach to life, he is also a talented musician and amateur photographer. In his free time, Goodfellow offers disability awareness training, alternate format communications and universal design consulting services.

Prince Edward Island

A native of Murray River, Prince Edward Island, Colin MacLeod will represent his province at the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa. Born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, Macleod continues to enjoy life to the fullest.

He is currently attending the University of Prince Edward Island completing a bachelor’s degree in arts. His greatest interest is hockey; his dreams came true when he began playing ice sledge hockey, developing a passion for the sport that has spanned 20 years. Macleod’s goals are to complete his degree and to help the sport of ice sledge hockey gain notoriety around the world.

Ontario

Singer-songwriter Justin Hines from Newmarket, Ontario, will represent his province at the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa. A talented musician, Hines grew up in a musical family.

Hines' father plays guitar and his mother sings. When talking about his passion, he says, "Honestly, I don't remember wanting to do anything else, period." His debut album, Sides, was released in 2007 and his most recent album, Chasing Silver, was released in 2009.

Hines lives with a rare genetic joint condition called Larsen Syndrome and uses a wheelchair. His condition does not stop him from enjoying life to the fullest and his music reflects that. At age 14, Hines won a radio contest to sing the national anthem at a Toronto Raptors basketball game. This first career gig was in front of 17,000 people.

In addition to writing music and singing, Hines has been involved with numerous charities since age 10. His focus in his music and in his life is humanity.

Quebec

Paralympic wheelchair racer Dean Bergeron will represent the province of Quebec as a torchbearer in the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa. Bergeron has stood on the podium in many international competitions and represented Canada at four Paralympic Games in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.

Bergeron lost the use of his legs at age 18 while training with his junior hockey team. He won a total of 11 Paralympic medals and is an example of courage and determination for Quebecers.

Northwest Territories

Katherine Elkin of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, will represent her province as a torchbearer at the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay on March 3 in Ottawa. Elkin is a first-year University of Calgary student and a para-swimmer. She is a shining example of perseverance and determination, and trains hard and often through the pain of her physical limitations.
Elkin represented the Northwest Territories at the 2009 Canada Summer Games in Charlottetown, Prince Edwards Island. She placed fourth in the 100-metre butterfly and fifth in the 200-metre individual medley. She also represented her country at the 2009 Alberta Senior Championships in Medicine Hat by winning a bronze medal in the 100-metre freestyle, and another bronze medal in the 50-metre freestyle at Defi sportif in Montreal.
Elkin is also a musician, dancer, performer and an honour roll student. She has appeared in numerous local productions, musical presentations and concerts in Yellowknife. She was also a volunteer coach with the Northwest Territories Special Olympics swim team while attending high school.

New Brunswick
A four-time Paralympian and wheelchair basketball player, Sabrina Pettinicchi Durepos will represent her province at the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa. She and her team brought home two medals from the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.

Pettinicchi Durepos also won a bronze medal at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games and competed at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. At age 17, Pettinicchi Durepos was involved in a serious car accident losing the use of her legs. An avid sports enthusiast before her accident, she didn't allow this accident to slow her down. While in the hospital recovering from her accident, a member of the Wheelchair Basketball Association visited her and invited her to a game. Her decision to attend proved to be a turning point in her life.

Currently completing a kinesiology degree at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, Pettinicchi Durepos is married to David Durepos, a member of the Canadian Men's Wheelchair Basketball Team. Pettinicchi Durepos is a huge supporter of sport participation for youth, particularly young girls. She enjoys music, reading and the outdoors.

Paralympic Movement
Three-time Paralympian Arnold Boldt will represent the Paralympic Movement in Canada as a torchbearer at the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa. Boldt won three god medals in the high jump and long jump at the Toronto 1976 Paralympic Games, and cleared 1.86 metres in the high jump, a world record for a one-legged jumper.

Boldt lost his right leg in a grain auger accident at age three, but that didn't prevent him from competing in a variety of sports including swimming, skiing, volleyball and athletics. Over the course of his career, Boldt continued to establish new records in the high jump. At the Arnhem 1980 Paralympic Games, he broke his own 1976 record with a new height of 1.96 metres.

At the next three Paralympic Games in 1984 (New York, USA), 1988 (Seoul, Korea) and 1992 (Barcelona, Spain), Boldt won gold medals in high jump as well as a silver in long jump. He was also Canada’s flagbearer in Barcelona.

Boldt was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1977, the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 1980, the Terry Fox Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2001.

In 2009, Boldt continued his athletic endeavours by winning the Canadian Para-Cycling Road Race and coming in fourth in the time trial event in St-Georges de Beauce, Quebec. He placed ninth in the road race at the UCI World Championships in Bogogno, Italy. During the summer, he also competes in able-bodied cycle racing in Saskatchewan. His current athletic goals include making the 2010 Canadian National Para-Cycling Team to compete at the UCI World Championships in Cali, Colombia, and making the Canadian National Paralympic Team for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Boldt is currently the dean of technology programs for the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology, responsible for over 35 programs and 200 faculties at four campuses across the province.

Vancouver 2010

Rick Ball. Read his biography.

Aboriginal Participation
Justine Belair will represent the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nations in the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay Lighting Ceremony on March 3 in Ottawa. An active member of her community, Belair is a step-dance champion and performs at retirement homes.

Belair was a competitive figure skater and ice captain at the Eganville Figure Skating competition. Along with coaching and teaching figure skating to children, she also coached basketball and volleyball.

Belair currently plays hockey and will compete with her team, the Pikwakanagan T-Birds, at the upcoming Heritage Cup. Among her other accomplishments, Belair won a silver medal at a slo-pitch national competition and competed at regional and provincial broomball competitions.

In addition to her involvement in sport, she dances at powwows and explains their culture and meanings at schools and retirement homes.

Powered by