As a youngster I was active and always on the go. I was very involved in sports, playing baseball, T-ball, and hockey. I refereed hockey games for 25 years, which means I participated in as many as 20,000 games in my career! As an adult I worked at a local grocery chain for 16 years. It was a job I loved very much.
When I turned 11 years old, my math teacher mentioned to my parents that I was not listening well in class. I soon found out I only had 25% of my hearing left. I taught myself how to lip read at a young age, and I was able to continue going to school, but it was not easy. I faced a lot of teasing, bullying, all the while trying to stay on top of my grades. I succeeded and graduated from Gloucester high school with an 82% grade average.
I have three healthy children. A few years ago, friends noticed that I was walking into chairs, walls, kid's toys and knocking things over. I also had a really hard time seeing anything at night. I agreed to get my eyes checked out so I went to the eye specialist for the results of the many test taken. He told me that I had Usher's Syndrome type 2.
Usher’s Syndrome is a condition that takes away your hearing at a young age and your vision later on. I was 34 years old and it was like hitting a cement wall. What now? What would I do in the future? With the diagnosis came many changes. I lost my driver’s licence, my job with the grocery chain, even my hobby of refereeing.
With the help of the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind), family and friends, I decided that I didn’t want to sit around and do nothing. I had to get on with life. I got a guide dog named Nemo. Nemo has given me back my independence. Now all I have to do is train Nemo to drive a car.
I also got involved with disability sports groups. At age 36, having 5% vision and 10% hearing left, I got myself back on skates, something that I have great passion for. Four years later, after 120 races in short and long track, I’ve won 5 gold, 6 silver, and 11 bronze medals against able bodied skaters.
My future dreams are to try and get speed skating as part of the Paralympics in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. This year, I’m attending the World Master’s Long track Championship in Germany. I hope someday to travel the world to compete. My latest quest is being pre-selected for the Adaptive Rowing team for Canada. I was ranked 4th in Canada in 2008. I hope to be competing on August, 2009 in Poland Paralympics World Cup. My other sporting interests are curling, downhill skiing, running and tap dancing.
My dream of being a winning Olympic Speed Skater is not just for me. It doesn't stop at coming home with a gold medal, it goes on to supporting others to accomplish their dreams. I want to be a mentor, a role model to future goal achievers.
To learn more about Kevin, click here.