Sports are a part of the Canadian identity, and to celebrate their benefits communities across the country are hosting events on Sept. 17-18 to mark Sports Day in Canada.
The Toronto Wheelchair Relay Challenge hosted annually by the Canadian Paraplegic Association (CPA) is one of these events.
Over 30 corporate and community wheelchair teams of eight people, each with or without disabilities, will be challenged to score the fastest time and raise funds.
Every team member must complete two laps around the 200 metre course for a total of 3.2 kilometres per team.
Apart from the race itself, the event also features an aerobics warm-up, face painting, food, and other children’s entertainment.
More than 500 people will attend the 16th edition on Sunday Sept. 18 at the Lyndhurst Centre.
“Sports are part of a healthy lifestyle that everyone should take part in,” said Gillian Lynne-Davies, who is the Communications and Marketing coordinator at the CPA Ontario, in an interview with the Toronto Observer.
The Wild Wheeled Women and Tim McCallum are among the participants that will take up the challenge.
The Wild Wheeled Women is a group of six that get together every Thursday night and Sunday afternoon to workout, talk about nutrition and support each other. Each one of them uses a wheelchair and together they have lost over 125 pounds.
A native of Australia, McCallum was working in music and musical theatre when in 1999 he suffered a spinal cord injury in a swimming accident. Due to the level of his injury, his ability to get the deep breath he needs to sing professionally was affected and his career would normally have ended.
Through his determination and hard work, McCallum can still sing, and he will showcase his talent on Sunday.
“Minister Kathleen Wynne [Ontario’s Minister of Transportation] will also speak in the opening ceremonies as our office and the challenge are in her riding [Don Valley West],” said Lynne-Davies.
In addition to promoting an active lifestyle, awareness of the abilities of people with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities, the Toronto Wheelchair Relay Challenge is also the CPA Ontario’s main fundraising event.
Lynne-Davies and her colleagues are hoping to raise $220,000 to fund CPA’s programs and services.
Since 1996, the Toronto Wheelchair Relay Challenge has raised over $3.5 million and is held across Ontario in Barrie, Hamilton, London, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Owen Sound, Orillia, Peterborough, Waterloo and Windsor.
Presented by CBC Sports, ParticipACTION and True Sport, Sports Day in Canada is a national celebration of sport in all its levels from grassroots to high performance.
Many events are held in Toronto to mark the day including the Wheelchair Relay Challenge and the first Parasport Festival hosted by the Canadian Paralympic Committee at Maple Leaf Square on Sat., Sept. 17.