Bo Hedges encourges students to “dream big” at ELC

With Bo Hedges in town last week to help his family with a cattle roundup at their Wonowon cattle ranch, the perfect opportunity arose for Hedges to educate and inspire local kids, and to film him as part of a larger project.

Christine Sutherland and Ben Haab, the people behind the upcoming documentary Dream Big: From Fort St. John to Tokyo, were able to have Hedges speak to students at the Energetic Learning Centre for the day on October 8, and film it for footage for the movie.

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The film will document Hedges’ journey of training and qualifying in wheelchair basketball for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, his fourth and final Games. In addition to Hedge’s talks with the students, the filmmakers also filmed sessions of Hedges and students happily learning and engaging in the sport.

“Number one, he’s so inspiring to be around, and having him in person makes his message even stronger. Bo’s strongest qualities are his charisma and leadership, and he’s really able to show young people what can be on the horizon instead of getting tripped up at what’s right in front of them,” Sutherland said.

If anyone has shown he can look past what’s in front of him, it’s Hedges. He spoke to the students about him falling off a tree when he was 13, landing on a stump, and breaking his spine. He would never walk again, would no longer be able to play hockey with his friends, nor drive tractor on the ranch.

“I had a lot of support. It was about not looking at what I couldn’t do, but how to adapt things so I could do them again. That was the biggest thing that helped move me along and embrace the life I have,” Hedges said.

Hedges said wheelchair basketball helped him transition from his life before the accident to his life in the years since.

“This path wheelchair basketball hass led me on, first to help my transition into continuing to play sports, and from there to getting my education and seeing Canada, North America, and the world, has made all the difference,” said Hedges.

As Hedges moved on to talking to the students about the chairs he uses, his daily training routine, and the rules of wheelchair basketball, he held their attention, showing what’s truly possible when presented with life-changing circumstances.

“It was truly to see how focused and excited these kids were, even the ones you wouldn’t expect,” said Sutherland.

After the round-up is complete, Hedges will return to his home in Toronto where he trains all winter-long, Monday to Friday. The international team will re-assemble in Toronto in May, before it goes on to play international tournaments in June. The final roster will be named around the end of June, with the games beginning on August 25, 2020. 

Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca.

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