Matt Hallat is #PARATOUGH. Are You?
Vancouver-born Matt Hallat does not have your typical inspiring athlete story. His is more powerful.
After having his right leg amputated at age five due to Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, Hallat’s parents enrolled him in a ski program for people with a disability. His dad had skied as a child and, after digging his 20-year-old ski boots out of the closet, he put them on to take his son to the hill. The old boots promptly fell apart. Despite the setback, father and son found another pair and made it out to the ski hill. They loved every minute of it, and the rest is history. Hallat has become a decorated para-alpine skier, three-time Paralympian, and has a World Championship bronze medal to his credit.
Hallat has now become an ambassador of para-athletes. He will be supporting the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) onsite at their first ever athlete identification event, to be held on Saturday, November 14 at the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary. Paralympian Search is open to Canadians aged 14 to 35 with a physical disability or visual impairment, offering them the chance to test their physical capabilities and discover which Paralympic sport may be best suited to them. Participants will get to meet Hallat, see his medal, and hear his story.
Hallat says that the role of athlete ambassador is important to him because, “The road to becoming a Paralympian helped shape the person that I am today. It shaped where I lived, the people I met, the challenges I set out to overcome, and the goals I set within and outside of skiing. Setting the goal to become a Paralympian has impacted every aspect of my life to date and I am thankful for that. Getting to be a Paralympian was icing on the cake.”
Catherine Gosselin-Després, Executive Director, Sport for the CPC, says that Paralympian Search is an opportunity to reap the same benefits from sport that Hallat has experienced. She notes, “By testing people’s potential in various Paralympic sports, we are looking to identify a future generation of champions with the potential to win medals for Canada. Not everyone will end up going to the Paralympic Games, but everyone can enjoy the benefits of being placed in an appropriate sport programs tailored to develop and hopefully maximize their potential.”
For those who are thinking of taking part but are nervous about their abilities, Hallat is already giving out advice. He emphasizes that all participants should “simply enjoy the experience. The participant is in the driver’s seat. There is no telling where it may go, but the choice is theirs and the day should be a lot of fun.”
As registration is free, there is nothing to lose for potential participants. Every test will be adapted for each participant’s specific needs and they will be in control of how hard they push themselves. So, come out to Paralympian Search on November 14 and find out if you are #PARATOUGH.
For more information and to register, visit paralympic.ca/paralympian-search.
Written by Brittany Schussler: @BSchussler
Photo by Dave Holland: @csicalgaryphoto