Sep 21, 2013

2013 CPA Wheelchair Relay

Last Saturday was the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Paraplegic Association wheelchair relay. It is their major fundraising event that occurs once a year and occurs only because of the hard work of a lot of people. Delynne was the organizer again this year and she did an excellent job. She recruited top-notch volunteers, including a skilled photographer, had lots of prizes for everyone, great activities for the kids, information stations about wheelchair sports and adaptive videogame technology, a yoga demonstration by Heather Cuttai and some celebrity appearances for the initial relay.

Our very own Mayor Don Atchison was there to say a few words and participate in the initial relay. Since this is my site I will say that I always have to bite my tongue at these times. I'm afraid the City of Saskatoon just cannot be patting itself on the back about putting in a few curb cuts that are completely unusable in the winter and many in the summer, because of snow or the road pavement being higher than the low point of the curb cut which causes a very dangerous lip for the front wheels of a wheelchair. Meanwhile, new businesses are opening, freshly renovated, with inaccessible entrances or washrooms. Costco has a freshly redesigned parking lot with fewer usable disabled persons parking stalls and new strip malls have fewer sidewalk accesses and the ones they do have are often at the front of a parking spot so they are blocked by the vehicles of individuals who insist on pulling up to the curb until their wheels hit and their front spoiler rips off. Thank goodness that ramp is there so they don't damage that spoiler in those instances.

I suggested that they bring in a full zamboni just before the relay starts and dump it in the middle of the track to give our mayor a real feel of getting around by wheelchair, trying to plow through snow.

I suppose a lot of these complaints are part of the reason that I help out with this relay. It is my hope that the suggestions regarding accessibility that the CPA is able to provide businesses with will become laws. Until there is punishment for exclusionary decisions by businesses I don't believe we will have a properly accessible city.

Among our celebrity guests was Becky Richter who, since I first photographed her over four years ago when she was fairly new to wheelchair racing, has won plenty of medals and broken records.

Heather doing her yoga demonstration for us.
Heather's daughter rocking her face paint. She even had a leopardprint shirt on to match.

CTV's own Mike Ciona was our emcee for the fourth year and did his usual excellent job. Subway provided an excellent lunch for us and there were the many prizes provided by smaller businesses from around the city to give to people through draws, trivia competitions and other games.

Of course, there were the large corporate sponsors that are greatly appreciated and make this fundraiser the most beneficial to the longevity and effectiveness of the CPA.

I got a little heavy on the photos of Lawrence, but that guy can move! The sequence of six photos that I took of him making his passing maneuver above was a lot of fun to cycle between to watch him overtake the older gentleman who's reaching for him. Things like that make the day extra fun to participate in.

Some of the groups had the absolute best costumes this year. There were the biker women, as seen in the background of the last photo of Lawrence above, with their fishnet stockings, bicycle helmets and tank tops complete with knee-high stockings.

UPDATE: Angie suggested they may be roller derby players. I'm guessing she's right.

There was the team dressed country style with the fierce, but friendly, attitude to match.

And, of course, there were the Wheel Riders 1, Wheel Riders 2 and the Young Riders, all of whom were dressed in Saskatchewan Roughrider green apparel.

All in all it was a full and busy day with a lot of laughs and a lot of excitement. It's amazing how fast, with a little bit of training, a person can move in a wheelchair. It's also amusing at how someone who's not use to navigating in a wheelchair can come to a corner and push the chair the exact wrong direction that they intend. It was things like that that made for a few of the best laughs and best collisions.

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