After applying for ski patrol positions in Jasper, Joan Reid and her brother were heading home. At 24, Joan did know this was the beginning of her life as a paraplegic. Her car seat reclined, Joan’s body became an accordion in a tragic car accident. (Joan would probably argue the fact of it being tragic.) A broken back and her life changed dramatically.
In the hospital, and later at G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Joan’s friends and family were amazed at her outlook. Her aim was for complete independence with no barriers. Her persistence in rehabilitation therapy paid off.
Those around her kept waiting for her to lose heart but it’s 27 years later and our Joanie has never lost heart. Athletic characteristics could be seen in how she tackled life as a paraplegic, always done with a shrug (“It’s no big deal.”)
Where others would go into a tailspin, Joan was excited about the new opportunities that her settlement would provide her with. She enrolled in university and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Social Sciences from Trinity Western University. A volunteering activity with disenfranchised youth led to a full-time job. Because of her confidence and acceptance of her paraplegia, she became a resource to many like her and their families. Always up for new opportunities, her enthusiasm and real-world advice provided practical help and hope.
Joan was not a city girl and was elated with the opportunity to move to the Okanagan. She moved to Enderby with all its recreational opportunities. She began operating her business Cat-Tale Cottages at Gardom Lake.
Joan began horseback riding and soon was competing at the National level. She competed in downhill skiing at a local level, and curled at the national level. People recognized her on her unusual bike as she swooped along the Kettle Valley. A sport that became her passion was Para Nordic skiing. As an active member of the Sovereign Lake Nordic Club she began dreaming of competing in her home province at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympics. What a disappointment when an injury prevented her from completing that goal. Joan is grateful for all the experiences she had as a member of the National Para Nordic team; the training, the competing, the two silver medals at the World Cup in 2007 plus travelling the world.
Joan began rowing as part of a cross-training program for her Para Nordic skiing. The coach quickly noticed her natural aptitude and encouraged her to pursue Women’s Single Sculls. She suffering a broken rib at the World Rowing Championships at Munich in 2008, although qualifying for the Canadian National team heading to Beijing 2008 Paralympics, she withdrew, not wanting to risk further injury.
Sidelined by injuries, Joan thought her Paralympic dreams were in the past. Her love of sport and competition pulled her back and soon she was training for the 2012 London Paralympics.
Joan qualified at the Gavirate International Adaptive Regatta in Gavirate, Italy by competing in two races ending up in the A final for both. On the second day of the regatta, she earned a bronze medal which put her in a good position for the final Paralympic qualifier in Belgrade, Serbia. On May 5th Joan easily secured her spot on the National Team. Starting strong and never letting up, Joan led the Women’s Single Sculls race finishing 22 seconds before the next contender, enjoying gold.
Joan leaves her home town of Enderby on July 2nd for two weeks training with the Canadian National Team in St. Catherines, Ontario. National team training moves to Portugal August 14th – 23rd. Then it’s over the channel to the 2012 London Paralympics.