Participating in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London as a photographer was a life altering experience for me. To see the amazing feats that were performed by such outstanding athletes totally boggles the mind. As a personal injury lawyer specializing in catastrophic injuries for the past 50 plus years, I could see how I could translate my experiences in London to benefit clients who I am fortunate to represent. The philosophy in our practice has always been to assist our clients not only to achieve financial independence but also to ensure they are given every opportunity to live a meaningful and productive life, long after their legal matters are finalized.
Three special examples of heroic proportion stood out for me.
One of our former clients, Judy Schloss, was selected to represent Canada on the Equestrian Team. Judy sustained a catastrophic brain injury which meant she would use a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Her whole family was therewith tears in their eyes to cheer her on as the newest member of the team.She performed brilliantly and made everyone including myself very proud ofher achievements. She was a world class equestrian!
The other amazing feat I witnessed was performed by Nick Taylor, an American tennis player who has quadriplegia. In order to serve the ball, he had to toss it in the air using his foot. His right hand had limited mobility, so he used it to operate his motorized wheelchair. His left hand was secured to the tennis racquet. Not only did he win a silver medal in singles, he and his partner, David Wagner, won their third consecutive gold medal in doubles. If this wasn't enough, they also received a rare and prestigioushonour from the United States Olympic Committee as the Paralympic Team of the Year.
The third amazing performance I saw was by Lu Dong, a 20 year old Chinese swimmer who has no arms. Since she was unable to launch herself in to the water by holding onto to the edge of the pool, she clenched her teeth on a towel tied to the edge before catapulting herself backwards. Powered only by her legs, she swam a record breaking time to win the gold medal.
There were many more amazing performances especially by our Canadian teams in basketball, rugby and volleyball. This was my second Paralympic Games having also been in Atlanta in 1996. The difference was astounding. In Atlanta,most of the spectators were friends and family. In London, the venues were all sold out. This was a total of 2.5 million tickets which exceeded all expectations and was by far the most successful Games to date.
If you ever have a chance to see these amazing Olympians in action, don't hesitate.
Once you see and realize what they are able to accomplish, you will be encouraged to strive to be the best you can be. For me, I will never, ever again complain about my sore back or knees.
I was accredited as a photographer for the Games, working with theDisability Today Publishing Group. They produced a soft cover book calledGlowing Hearts IV "The Power of the Human Spirit." Copies of the book can be obtained through www.glowinghearts.ca
Written by Bernard L. Gluckstein l Partner, Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers