Melanie’s Story

As the Executive Director of Wheelchair Basketball Canada, I am inspired by Melanie’s story. Despite the challenges she has faced in her life, Melanie is now thriving as a member of Team Canada on the road to Tokyo 2020.

Melanie was born with spina bifida, a condition in which the spinal column fails to completely develop causing defects in the spinal cord. Growing up, Melanie was often excluded from participating in her school gym classes alongside her peers because there was no inclusive programming.

But instead of letting this affect her life, Melanie persevered—and then, she excelled. Melanie was introduced to sport at an early age through a wheelchair sports program and when she turned 5 years old, she was already an athlete.

Sport gave Melanie a sense of belonging and a community in which she thrived. A fiery competitor, the speedy athlete was soon on the fast track to success. Without sport, she would have been lost.

“Sport has played a major role in shaping me into the person I am today. Sport has taught me to be respectful, disciplined, motivated, passionate, and many other things,” says Melanie.

She started out as a track athlete but later switched gears to wheelchair basketball. She found her true calling on the hardcourt and worked her way up all the way to Team Canada.

“Wheelchair basketball has given me many opportunities to meet great people and learn from the best teachers and coaches in the world. I have become a better person because of sport. I have learned so many lessons that translate not only on the court but off the court as well.

“Making the National Team for the first time will always be the highlight of my career. I enjoy learning from the best and playing with the best in the game and that has made me better.”

Playing for Team Canada has taken Melanie around the world, to the top of the podium, and to the Paralympic Games. She treasures the amazing opportunity she has to bring those experiences back to her local club program and mentor young athletes. She is also a champion for inclusion, and embraces the chance to visit schools and talk to kids like her and encourage them to get involved in sport.

“Without my local program and all of my coaches, and the support of Wheelchair Basketball Canada, I would not be where I am today and would not have been able to grow as a person the way that I have. I have more confidence in myself because my coaches believed in my potential and showed me that I had potential. Having those coaches and people that believe in you is the difference maker. I hope to give that same gift back to young athletes.”

Wheelchair Basketball Canada believes in the power of sport and strives to empower all Canadians to reach their full potential both on and off the court. As a valued supporter of our organization, join me to help strengthen our programs in order to foster the next generation of Canadian wheelchair basketball athletes.

Your support allows local programming to prosper across Canada and helps ensure that nobody is left on the sidelines. I know you care deeply about helping us empower young athletes to reach their full potential and pursue their dreams, just like Melanie.

Please give the gift of sport this holiday season and send your tax-deductible donation to Wheelchair Basketball Canada today. You can and you do make a difference in the lives of young people with disabilities!

Wishing you a happy holiday season,

Wendy Gittens

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