If you live in Revelstoke, BC you may recognize Emily Suchy as the girl pedaling around town on a unicycle in the summer months. Like most 14 year olds in mountain towns Emily loves getting outside, kayaking, climbing and photography- taking pictures of flowers and scenery are some of her favorite outdoor activities. She started unicycling when she was seven and uses that and bicycling as her main mode of transportation when there isn’t snow on the ground.
Not only is it fun, but a huge help for Emily as she suffers from a degenerative disease of the hip joint called Perthes Syndrome that limits her ability to walk distances of more than a few blocks. High impact activities are not an option which can make getting outside and getting around in the wintertime a challenge.
Until recently, when with the help of a good friend and member of the Revelstoke Nordic Club- Debbie Koerber, Emily has been given the opportunity to get out on the cross-country ski trails. Koerber has spearheaded a Para Nordic program in Revelstoke to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to join the team and get out skiing on the Macpherson cross country trails and racing all over the province.
After receiving equipment grants from the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Live It! Love It!, Debbie and Emily attended a camp in Canmore, AB where they were educated on how to facilitate a Para Nordic program, given on snow coaching and instruction from National team coaches, athletes and support staff. Emily was able to test out and borrow a sit ski from the Canmore Para Nordic club for the camp. When asked about the camp Emily said: “It was really cool, I met all these amazing athletes. Everyone was really open and willing to talk about their disabilities. It was really inspiring.” Emily appreciates the amazing quality coaching and attention from everyone involved with the camp, “It’s awesome to have a winter activity, I don’t usually do much in the winter so I’m really happy”.
A few weeks after the camp Emily and Debbie attended a BC Winter Games time trial in Sovereign Lake. Joan Reid, a paraplegic from Salmon Arm brought a fleet of sit skis for Emily to test out. Emily took to her race ski right away and finished the time trial in sixteen minutes, qualifying for the BC Winter Games. Emily is excited about the winter ahead and plans on attending races all over BC. Debbie emphasizes that the support of the team, community and coaches are highly advantageous for the success of the program and hopes that Emily’s participation inspire other individuals with disabilities in Revelstoke to join the Para Nordic team and help raise awareness about Para sport in the area.