By: Jan Ditchfield
Executive Director, Won with One
Won with One, the national Paratriathlon program for blind and visually impaired athletes, recently completed our 2011 season and what a year it was!
From April to August, Won with One supported 17 blind/visually impaired athletes to compete in 32 major races in North America – 9 triathlons, 19 road races and 4 major bike tours. We trained 49 amazing guides who raced with our athletes and moved 30 tandem bicycles over a combined total of 10,000km to see this happen. We permanently secured 15 tandems for our team and witnessed our athletes and guides reach the top of the podium 16 times, including taking home six medals from the Paratriathlon Nationals in Kelowna, BC in late August.
It was an incredible inaugural year for us, but also came with difficulties. Mid-season, we lost our major national supporter, leaving us questioning if we would be able to continue to operate. It was the overwhelming offers of support from our sponsors, including Mizuno Canada, our team, guides, friends and family that inspired us to regroup and rebuild. Won with One is now completing the final steps necessary to become our own non-for-profit organization, formed a new Board of Directors and is moving forward in our mission to continue to support blind and visually impaired athletes in their goal to take part in the sport that they love – as equals.
2012 is already planned and will be starting with Ron Hackett and his guide Tim Scapillato returning to the Boston Marathon to defend their 2011 championship in the VI category. Our next season also includes our team racing in Kingston, ON at the K-Town Triathlon and later, the Sand Lake Triathlon in Westport, ON, where race director Rick Hellard of Zone3 Sports has created a fully inclusive race for B/VI athletes. Joe’s Team Triathlon (Muskoka, ON) and the NYC Triathlon will also see representation from our athletes again in the upcoming season.
Won with One is also very proud to have been named a finalist for the Celebration of People Award in Ottawa, ON. Held in conjunction with December 3 – International Day of Persons with Disabilities – the award celebrates the achievements of people and organizations promoting inclusion and full community participation for persons with disabilities. We are deeply honoured in the knowledge that our nomination came directly from the athletes and guides we work with!
As we continue to move forward as an organization, we are thankful to our guides, the iRun community and also to Mizuno Canada for their support and belief in the work that we do. Together, we continue to break down barriers one water station at a time.
For more information on Won with One, please visit www.wonwithone.com or contact Jan Ditchfield, Executive Director at email@example.com.