Four-time Paralympian David Willsie has never let his circumstances get in the way of his passion for sports. Two weeks after suffering a spinal cord injury in a hockey game in 1995, Willsie came to Parkwood Institute (then Parkwood Hospital) for rehabilitation. He credits the team at Parkwood Institute with helping him get back to what he loves – playing rugby.
“The team was so patient and pushed me at the right times during my recovery.”
The 48-year-old is training for his fifth Paralympic Games as a wheelchair rugby player. The games are set to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sept. 7-18.
“It’s an honour representing Canada and feels so cool to put on a maple leaf,” says Willsie. “Competing against the best in the world is an incredible feeling.”
Willsie is one of a long list of Canadian athletes who inspire the Paralympians of the future.
“There are so many agencies out there helping people chase their dreams. Whether you are passionate about sport, art or music, so many activities have been adapted. No matter what someone’s injury or need is there is a way to participate.”
When asked his advice for someone recently injured or struggling with an illness that has affected their physical ability, Willsie has a simple message. “Don’t get overwhelmed. Solve one problem at a time. Wake up every morning, put your pants on and get to work.”
Learn more about David Willsie:
- Canadian Wheelchair Sport Association Team Profiles - Dave Willsie
- Wheelchair rugby athlete Willsie pumping for Paralympics - July 16, 2000 from the London Free Press