As the parent of a daughter with a serious disability and a son who is an Olympian I see, every day, the effort it takes for each of them to make their way in life. They both face challenges not encountered by the average person. One by choice, the other due to fate.
We are B.C. residents by choice. One of the determining reasons we chose to live in B.C. was the support B.C. gives to persons with disabilities. We have never regretted our decision.
Our daughter lives near us in a great care home. She participates in community living programs and uses publicly funded transportation to travel to and from those programs.
She has been advised that she will soon receive an increase of $77/month in provincial support allowance which she is free to use for travel or anything else she chooses.
On the Olympic side, we know dozens of Canadian athletes. We have watched them sacrifice personal and family time for the honour of competing for their country. Very few reach that goal. We know that it demands time and energy very few are prepared to commit.
That brings us to comment on the recent criticism of our MLA, Michelle Stillwell. We know her as an athlete and a woman committed to her community, her province and her country.
We know her as the mother of a son with autism. Perhaps most importantly we know her as one of the hardest working persons we have ever met.
The fact that Stilwell dedicates 10 hours a day to her job as an MLA and cabinet minister and finds time to train and compete as a Paralympian; all while raising son Kai with husband Mark is amazing. Stilwell the athlete is inspired, Stilwell the wife and mom is inspirational.
Those zealots who confront her as she rolls her chair into her son’s school for parent teacher interviews and those partisan letter writers who claim Stilwell is not working for her community could not be more wrong.
I respect the athlete who gets up at
6 a.m. and trains relentlessly for two hours. I respect the MLA who attended more than 200 community events in 2015 and the cabinet minister who logs long hard hours working on behalf of my disabled daughter.
Bravo to the Olympian. But more importantly, cheers to the woman who won’t let anything stop her from performing above and beyond in sport, community service and in life.
Stilwell, thanks for having the courage to keep rolling in the face of so many challenges.
To those bullies, and partisan political activists who seek to disparage her, keep up to her high standards of community involvement and service; if you can.
Craig DuttonQualicum Beach