I haven’t met Josh yet. I know people who know him because I live in Vernon and he is a local Vernonite. I saw locals buying “Go Josh Go” tee shirts around town and I was curious. People were really stoked about Josh’s run for medals at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics. They weren’t disappointed when Josh captured a silver medal yesterday in his first of four events. Way to go Josh!!
In fact about 50 people from Kimberly, his home town, and from Vernon, where he lives now, stayed to cheer him on even through three steady hours of afternoon snow and after at least half of the crowd of 4,000 had called it quits, they were still there when their sit-skiing hero earned a surprise silver medal. Dueck said it was “huge” to feel the crowd’s energy. “I put a little bit in my back pocket just for those moments when I needed it.”
Josh learned to ski at thirteen and dreamed of becoming a professional skier. He made the B.C. freestyle team, working to qualify for Canada’s national development team.
The financial demands of competition led Josh to coaching and sharing his passion for sport as head coach of the Silver Star Freestyle Ski Club in Vernon. It was then that the dream crash-landed.
Preparing students for the 2004 Canadian junior nationals, Josh was too fast on a demonstration jump. “Intuition said stop, but my ego made me go,” he remembers.
Overshooting the landing hill, he dropped 100 feet and completely smashed his body —breaking his back and flipping his world upside-down. Bent in an impossible direction, the spine was severed. At 23, Josh was paralyzed from the waist down.
Josh’s focus, dedication and commitment are so incredibly inspiring. All the athletes competing in the Paralympics truly demonstrate to the world that the human Spirit is so much greater than our physical selves. Congratulations to everyone competing and thank you for inspiring all of us.