Two Saskatchewan Paralympians are in La Ronge as part of their northern tour to recruit athletes.
Brittany Hudak of Prince Albert was working in 2012 at Canadian Tire when decorated Paralympic athlete Colette Bourgonje entered the store and happened to see her. Not wanting to let the opportunity slip away, Bourgonje said she approached Hudak with her card, explained who she was and introduced the Paralympic Games to her.
“She was 18 and she didn’t know,” Bourgonje said. “That’s why awareness is really important. For me, I was able-bodied, and I never guessed I’d be living the rest of my life in a wheelchair. It’s good to know there are options out there if something happens to you.”
The pair of athletes arrived in La Ronge this afternoon as part of a tour of several northern communities including Air Ronge, Canoe Lake Cree First Nation, Hall Lake and Île-à-la-Crosse. At Churchill Community High School, they spoke with students about skiing and displayed the medals they’ve earned such as those from the Paralympics. Bourgonje has competed at seven Winter Paralympics Games and has earned 10 medals, while Hudak has attended two and earned her first medal (bronze) at the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympics.
During the duo’s stay in the tri-communities, they’re also expected to spend some time with La Ronge Ski Club members, as well as meet with students from Gordon Denny Community School and Senator Myles Venne School before leaving for Île-à-la-Crosse Wednesday. Overall, Hudak noted there will be eight presentations and also some one-on-one sessions.
“We’re trying to reach out to people to get involved in what we’re doing up North,” she said. “This province has amazing support, so I guess we’re just trying to raise awareness about the availability that is around.”
Hudak, who graduated from St. Mary High School in 2011, said she lived in Prince Albert for her entire life up until recently when she decided to move to pursue skiing further. Since graduation, she’s been to countries around the world to train and compete, adding her first winter skiing was in 2012.
“My development was definitely fast tracked,” Hudak said. “Within two years of skiing, I was already qualifying for my first Paralympic Games.”
The general public is also invited to attended any of the presentations and are encouraged to reach out to Bourgonje and Hudak about the Paralympics.
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