Renée’s story

Renée’s story


♫ Debbie VO: Renée was a preemie. Nurse at SickKids just told me,
“She has CP.” They’ll never forget.
I was shocked. I had no idea.
I thought she was just premature. At the beginning it’s scary, because you don’t know
what it means. What it means for her
and her life. What challenges
she’s gonna have, what I’m gonna have
to do as a parent. She basically suffered stroke,
so she had bleeds on the brain, which caused the right side of
her body’s muscles to be weaker. When she was little, she used
to say, “Me do it. Me do it.” I think she was five? I would do
the buttons up for her, and one day she’s,
“No, me do it.” She’d sit there every day
for like an hour, maybe longer, for a whole week, until she figured out how to push
that button through the hole. And she got one button,
and she had the biggest smile, she was so happy. And eventually,
she got all of them done. Jon: That particular tenacity – I believe it’s a part
of who she is today. She has an immense impact
on her peers, on her friends. She said to me numerous times, “Jon, if you need me to come
and talk to another client, and let them know what it is
having cerebral palsy, I’m happy to do that.” Debbie VO: Her disability
is not a disability to her. It’s just part of who she is. When she was little,
I used to say, “Mummy wears classes
to help my eyes work. You wear a brace on your hand
and your leg to make those work.” Renée VO: I don’t see it as
a challenge, it’s just modifications. If you were to see me now,
compared to where I was, even at the beginning
of high school, like, I used to wear my hand
in full braces, and from there on,
when I did my weightlifting, went through a lot of therapy to be able to do
modified the way I am. Debbie VO: Without ErinoakKids,
I would never have even known that there were sports
out there for my daughter. Renée: I’m involved for the past
ten years of my life with track and field. Debbie VO: Her coach’ll work
with her on something, and he’ll have to work on it
again and again, and the next time he comes,
it’s like the muscles forget, and she has to do it
all over again. The muscle memory isn’t
exactly the same. All the cold and wet days we’ve spent on the field,
the pair of us, all the driving that
we’ve done to competitions, just like any other parent
with their kid and their sport, and watching her succeed
has been amazing. Especially this last event
she just did at the ParapanAms. Renée VO: I was able to do discus,
shot put, and javelin there. Debbie VO: It’s a thing of beauty
when you see that little girl, and she’s always the smallest one,
just go, put her arm back, and throw it forward,
and that disc fly in the air. It’s beautiful. Watching her compete at that
level was phenomenal. She threw personal bests
in every event. She broke Canadian records,
and America’s record. She won a bronze, silver. Renée VO: I’m very happy
to get gold in discus. Debbie VO: It was like
a fairy story. It couldn’t have been
any better for her. Renée VO: Being able to be in front
of a huge crowd, at home, on the podium three times,
was amazing! But the best was getting
that gold, and being able to get that
sense of overwhelming feeling when O Canada
was playing for me, and I would replay the feeling
of being on the podium every day if I could. Jon VO: I always say, “We’ll read
about you in the paper.” We’re already reading
about Renée. She’s got a magical attribute that kind of perpetuates
a positive sense to people around her, and it makes them better
for knowing her. Renée VO: It’s good to use
the platform of public speaking to help motivate other people to open up from what
their barriers may be. Because there is a big
misunderstanding with disability. Everybody has barriers, no matter what they have
going on in their life. What I want to be able to do
is open up everybody’s eyes to what someone with
a disability could do, and how they could change
your life for the better. ♫

About the Author: Garret Beatty

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