Featured Athlete: Julia Hanes
Hometown: LaSalle, Ontario
“Honestly, sports were a huge part of my return to function and my ability to cope. [Sledge hockey] was the first one to get me really active [post-rehab]. It was the first time in eight months I really felt like I just had actual tons of fun. I loved it. My disability did not matter and it was just so freeing. Nobody really cared what happened to me and it was nice to be seen not as someone who is disabled and not as someone who is not whole, but just an athlete.”
Hanes grew up playing multiple sports at a competitive level; she swam, played soccer, figure skated for 13 years, and dabbled in volleyball, cross-country and more. Since acquiring her disability, she has gone on to compete in wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and para-athletics at competitive levels – even winning two golds in seated shot put and discus at the 2017 Canada Summer Games and shattering the F33 Canadian records for both events.
“The community is something that – people don’t talk about it a lot – but having a good group of people with disabilities [around you], even if you’re not talking about disabilities all the time, you learn tips and tricks from them. There’s a common understanding that everybody just gets it.”