Shriners Hos­pi­tal part­ners with Spar­tan Race to raise money for sick kids

Montreal Times - - News -

Spar­tan Race Canada has se­lected the Shriners Hos­pi­tals for Chil­dren Canada as their na­tional char­ity part­ner for 2018. Spar­tan Race Canada is the leader in ob­sta­cle course races, among the most chal­leng­ing in the world. Over the years pa­tients at Shriners Hos­pi­tals across Canada have par­tic­i­pated in Spar­tan Races prov­ing that dis­abil­i­ties do not nec­es­sar­ily mean lim­i­ta­tions. The Shriners Hos­pi­tals treat chil­dren with or­tho­pe­dic and neu­ro­mus­cu­lar prob­lems such as brit­tle bone dis­ease, hip dys­pla­sia, cere­bral palsy, sco­l­io­sis, limb de­for­mi­ties, and other com­plex con­di­tions. Pa­tients of the Shriners Hos­pi­tal in NDG will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in a se­ries of Spar­tan Races in the Greater Mon­treal Re­gion and beyond from May un­til Au­gust. The races have a two-fold pur­pose: to help raise money for sick chil­dren be­ing treated by the Shriners Hos­pi­tals and to en­cour­age par­tic­i­pants to de­velop their full po­ten­tial. Ac­cord­ing to Martin Gal­li­gan, Pres­i­dent of Spar­tan Race Canada when chil­dren and their fam­i­lies get in­volved in ob­sta­cle course rac­ing they are bet­ter able to face ob­sta­cles in life.This par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing sport helps them to learn how to deal with ob­sta­cles by fos­ter­ing au­ton­omy, en­cour­ag­ing them to trust in their own abil­ity to find a so­lu­tion. "This is very sim­i­lar to what run­ners en­counter when train­ing for a Spar­tan Race and dur­ing a race," he says.

The three young "pa­tient am­bas­sadors" rep­re­sent­ing the McGill Uni­ver­sity-af­fil­i­ated Shriners Hos­pi­tal on the Glen site are Jef­frey Beau­soleil, Aurélie Grand­champ, and Florence Car­rier. Jef­frey, 19, has been a pa­tient at the Shriners since he was 5 months old. He was born miss­ing his right hand and right foot.At an early age had to learn to over­come ob­sta­cles."Ever since I was lit­tle, I've known I can over­come ob­sta­cles de­spite be­ing dif­fer­entlyabled," he says. One of the most dif­fi­cult chal­lenges in­volved in­tim­i­da­tion. In ele­men­tary school, the chil­dren laughed at him and called him an alien dub­bing him Cap­tain Hook" be­cause at the time he was wear­ing a hooked-shaped pros­thetic on his arm. How­ever, with the help of his par­ents, teach­ers, his doc­tors & Shin­ers staff, along with the sup­port of some "faith­ful friends", he learned how to cope and stand up to school bul­lies. In 2016 he proved his tor­men­tors wrong when he com­peted in not one but four Spar­tan Races with a pros­thetic on his right leg and no right arm.

"This is my 10th (race). I've raised more than $10,000," he says with ev­i­dent pride.And why not? Jef­frey is a vet­eran com­peti­tor, hav­ing suc­cess­fully com­pleted 9 ob­sta­cle course races. While he doesn't want to set his ex­pec­ta­tions too high he is nev­er­the­less cau­tiously op­ti­mistic that he can ex­pand his cir­cle of po­ten­tial donors. "I'm go­ing to chal­lenge peo­ple to give do­na­tions to the Shriners," he says not­ing that he al­ready has a "lit­tle fan base" of about 1000 peo­ple and hopes to reach as many as 5000 through so­cial me­dia. In the mean­time, he is gear­ing up for the en­durance race with huge ob­sta­cles. "It was hard the last time," he says. Dur­ing his first race at Mon­tTrem­blant, Jef­frey ad­mits he con­sid­ered quit­ting. "But I re­mem­bered why I was do­ing it: to prove to my­self, my fam­ily and ev­ery­one who's ever doubted me that I can do any­thing I want to - I just do it dif­fer­ently."

Aurélie Grand­champ, 16, un­der­went ma­jor surgery to cor­rect a bone de­fi­ciency in her left leg when she was 11.The surgery length­ened her left fe­mur by 5.5 cen­time­ters and af­ter a lengthy pe­riod of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, she re­sumed play­ing sports. She is still see­ing spe­cial­ists at the Shriners and do­ing phys­io­ther­apy but is now ac­tive in soc­cer tour­na­ments, run­ning events, and other sports-re­lated chal­lenges. She has won re­gional com­pe­ti­tions in cross-coun­try run­ning and was awarded "Player of theYear" two years in a row in her soc­cer and flag foot­ball teams at Col­lège Notre-Dame. The pe­tite teenager ac­knowl­edges that Spar­tan Races rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge. "I want to train, to achieve these goals, with­out get­ting hurt, "she says with to­tal can­dor. De­spite the hur­dles, both lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively speak­ing, it's been worth it.Talk­ing about her first chal­lenge heat she says, "It was just amaz­ing. I didn't know what to ex­pect. I wouldn't have come back if I didn't like it."

The other chal­lenge, of course, was rais­ing the money. In 2013, with the help of her grand­mother and fam­ily, Aurélie raised more than $11,000. Since then she has taken part in nu­mer­ous hos­pi­tal events such as the Shrine Bowl in 2014 and the Spar­tan Race in 2016 which al­lowed her to raise an­other $3000. Aurélie says she wants to get in­volved and give back af­ter re­ceiv­ing the best pos­si­ble care. Her con­cept is sim­ple. "The idea is to have a team of 10 - friends or fam­ily - and for each of them to raise at least $200." Sounds like a plan. Aurélie's got big­ger plans. She would love to work with the hos­pi­tal in the fu­ture. She says her dis­abil­ity, cou­pled with her pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence at the Shriners, has made her ap­pre­ci­ate the med­i­cal field.

Florence Car­rier, 10 is the youngest com­peti­tor. She was born with a mal­for­ma­tion to her right leg and a few days af­ter birth her par­ents were re­ferred to the Chil­dren's Hos­pi­tal for a con­sul­ta­tion. With the sup­port of the Shriners team, her par­ents made the de­ci­sion for their baby daugh­ter to have surgery to am­pu­tate her right leg. Her right foot was also re­moved. A few months later she took her first steps with the help of pros­the­sis and she's never looked back. The en­er­getic 5th grader is ac­tive in nu­mer­ous ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing danc­ing, gym­nas­tics, swim­ming, and has even com­pleted triathlons. The list goes on. She does alpine ski­ing which she be­gan at only 3 years old. Her dream is to go to the Olympics in ski­ing and rep­re­sent her coun­try. She's also been a mem­ber of the Owl's Head rac­ing team for 2 years now. "I've watched it a lot on TV. I've al­ways wanted to do an ob­sta­cle course," she says. "I think it's a lot of fun." She wants to raise at least $200 or more this sum­mer. She hasn't started her fundrais­ing cam­paign yet. "I haven't re­ally told any­one be­cause it is re­ally new," she says.

"It's a pretty safe bet that this youngest cham­pion of the group will achieve what­ever goals she sets. Florence has great role mod­els in Jef­frey and Aurélie who have proven them­selves. She will be in the com­pany of an elite group of Spar­tan Rac­ers who will be chal­leng­ing them­selves to achieve their per­sonal best for the best of all pos­si­ble mo­tives, to help oth­ers who are less for­tu­nate.There's a les­son for all of us.

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