There are nine para-athletes competing for Team Alberta at the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg. The Canada Games sport program offers opportunities for para-athletes in Athletics, Sailing and Swimming.

In Athletics, there are two remarkable stories of athletes aiming to use their Canada Games experience to raise awareness to parasport. They hope to educate and encourage others to compete, as well as increase the resources available to para-athletes across Canada.

18-year old Navarra Li Houldin of Calgary has always been an avid athlete. She swam competitively, was on the track team, ran cross-country and was even training for a marathon last fall. Houldin did all this despite constant pain caused by a progressive disorder called Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.

Houldin began to lose the ability to use her legs last October and one morning woke up not being able to move. She was later told she would no longer be able to walk and has been using a wheelchair since.

Despite the life-changing event, Houldin was as motivated as ever and begged her Crescent Heights High School track coach to include her – and her wheelchair – on the high school track team. Her perseverance was rewarded and her coach found various opportunities for her to compete in wheelchair racing including the 2017 Canada Summer Games.

“Sports is a very big part of who I am,” Houldin said following a morning training session at the University of Manitoba Stadium. “To me, losing sport would have been terrifying on top of what I had already lost. I couldn’t lose that part of my identity.”

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