A Goal to Survive

From a very young age I was competing in sports, starting with competitive skiing at four years old. It's always been a part of me and has always been my biggest passion. Aside from skiing and golfing, which I competed in for 12 years, I also played badminton and basketball in high school. Then of course, there were my other hobbies like mountain biking, hiking, ping pong, squash, and more.

I was very good at sports, but I still worked my butt off. I loved it. I loved competing. I did everything it took to get better and to be the best.

When my health problems came in 2002, I hit a wall. For the first time in my life, I had no control of the situation. I became sick for months, facing many complications and years in hospitals. Ultimately my illness led to paraplegia and almost took my life.

Then one day I had a new awareness. At that moment I chose to focus on everything I had and everything I knew: competitive sports.

A New Life Begins

Each time I was released from the hospital, I pushed my chair. In the beginning, I didn't last long, but I did as much as I could. Every day I pushed a little bit more.

Then I purchased a hand bike to help me go further. This thing brought me a lot of freedom, but with it, a lot of hard work.

Unfortunately, I had to go back to the hospital many times because of complications. Sometimes I lost everything I had gained on the bike. But I knew it was the only way I could survive, so I continued to push forward.

I kept biking when I was home, hoping my immune system would strengthen. After several years, it eventually did. I had spent more than 700 days in hospitals.

In 2009, I moved to Montreal with my girlfriend. While biking, we passed by the local tennis club and she told me that I should ask if I could play tennis in a wheelchair. The staff was kind enough to book a session with a national wheelchair tennis coach.

When I arrived to my session 30 minutes early, a guy was playing wheelchair tennis with his coach. I took a really good look at what he was doing on the court, the chair movements, the ball striking, and the strategy.

I believed deep down that I could do those things on court.

When the guy left the court, I went to talk to him. He told me he just got back from the Beijing Paralympics. From that moment on, I had a plan and a dream: to represent Canada in the next Paralympic Games. Part of this goal was also set to help cure and strengthen my immune system.

Philippe Bédard

I started training a few weeks later. I worked my butt off on court and in the gym. I slowly built a team around me to help achieve my goals. I followed the lessons I learned in my younger days when I was competing.

I raised money with friends to be able to pay for my expenses and played tournaments around the world. I went on tour one year without any money from the federation. I knew I had no time to waste.

I finished the first year 52nd in the world rankings.

After that, people around me thought my next goal would be unachievable: to represent Canada at the 2012 London Paralympic Games, just two short years away.

I didn't stop going after my dream. From there I joined the National team and went on to play bigger events. Through all of my wins and losses, I always battled hard and tried to improve. Then, my big break happened.

Receiving the Call

In June 2012, I got a phone call from the National director telling me that I qualified for the London Paralympics. I'll remember that moment for the rest of my life. It was very special and brought me lots of joy, pride, and recognition.

Only a few months later in September, I was entering the Olympic stadium with 80,000 people chanting while the announcer said, "Welcome Canada!"

It was a dream come true. I was a Paralympian, but mostly, I was a survivor!

The strengths I developed in my youth served me well to achieve my goals in life. I learned that those strengths are always inside you. Everything is possible when you believe in it and you make the effort. Life is fragile; live it to its fullest.

About the Author


Born in Bromont, Quebec in 1981, Philippe Bédard was active in sports from his childhood and made a name for himself in alpine skiing and golf, where he played competitively for 12 years. He dreamed of becoming a professional and focused his efforts in that direction.

On November 15, 2002 he was confronted with the biggest challenge of his life when he was diagnosed with lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease of the bone marrow. This inflammation in his spine marrow turned Philippe into a paraplegic. Because of numerous complications we was forced to spend 700 days in hospital during the first five years of his illness.

Philippe retired from international competition in 2018. He played in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, won a bronze medal in the 2015 Toronto Para Pan-American Games, and won 14 National Champion titles in Canada.

Most of the stories here on Live Quickie were submitted by readers. Do you have a story to tell? We'd love to hear it. Submit your story here.

Date: 7/16/2019 12:00:00 AM

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