Saturday, February 19, 2011

Story 15: Kathy Newman

It's hard to imagine BC Wheelchair Sports without Kathy Newman. She started working for the organization as an office manager in 1981 and took the helm as the Executive Director in 1987. For the past 30 years, she's ensured that the BC Wheelchair Sports Association remains a world leader in providing sporting opportunities for people with disabilities.

Kathy is known for her ability to run with a good idea, even if it's untested. She was instrumental in the founding of the Bridging the Gap program, which introduces people with disabilities to wheelchair sports and helps to ensure their continued participation. The Bridging the Gap program has since spread across Canada and its model has inspired other countries to adopt similar initiatives. During the recently 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships, she invested in a robust social media and webcasting program, something that had never been done before in wheelchair sports. The initiative was a success and thousands of people in countries around the world got a chance to share in the excitement of the event online. Kathy has also lobbied government and the private sector to remove barriers for people with disabilities and increase funding for wheelchair sports. She also serves on various wheelchair sports boards across Canada.

Kathy's enthusiasm and positive attitude is contagious and she inspires those she works with to maintain a standard of excellence and innovation. This was most recently seen when BCWSA hosted the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships, which set records for attendance, ticket sales, merchandise sales and media attention. Currently, Kathy is turning her attention to assisting with the 2011 Under 25 Women's Wheelchair Basketball Championships, which will take place at Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario this July.

Recently, Kathy received the prestigious "In Her Footsteps" award and we've got video footage of the event below. Thank you, Kathy, for your 30 years of hard work and dedication to wheelchair sports.

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