CIBC Team Next members Josh Cassidy, Stephanie Dixon and Cody Caldwell look to inspire kids with disabilities to mark one-year countdown to TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games
Canadian Paralympian and Parapan Am hopeful visit with kids at Variety Village and Holland Bloorview
TORONTO, Aug. 7, 2014 /CNW/ - CIBC (TSX: CM) (NYSE: CM) - Canadian Paralympians Josh Cassidy and Stephanie Dixon and Parapan Am hopeful Cody Caldwell joined CIBC today in encouraging kids with disabilities to participate in sports to celebrate the one-year countdown to the TORONTO 2015 Parapan American Games.
"It's shocking that of the four million Canadians living with a disability only three per cent of them are involved in sport," said Josh, a CIBC Team Next mentor. "It just underscores how important it is to have the Parapan Am Games here in Canada to help motivate kids to be active and play sports.
"Growing up with a physical disability forced me to learn how to adapt, in order to achieve. I want to be able to share this message to anyone dealing with limitations, that anything is possible," added Josh, who was diagnosed after birth with neuroblastoma cancer that he conquered but which left his legs partially paralyzed. He is a five-time Canadian wheelchair racing champion and recorded the fastest time ever set by a man in a wheelchair in the 2012 Boston Marathon. "Wheelchair Racing gave me the opportunity to fully participate in sport, and exercise my determination with goals to pursue."
Fellow CIBC Team Next mentor Stephanie and CIBC Team Next athlete Cody visited with children and put on clinics today in Toronto at Variety Village, which offers specialized programs and services to young people with disabilities, and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Canada's largest children's rehabilitation hospital. They were joined by PACHI, the TORONTO 2015 mascot, and CIBC representatives.
"We hope to change the perception of what it means to live with a disability," said Stephanie, who was born with one leg and has not only competed with athletes without disability her whole life but also set several world records and won 19 Paralympic medals, the second most in Canadian history. "As we count down the days to next year's Parapan Am Games, I'm really excited for Canadians to embrace the para-sport movement."
Stephanie and Josh mentor up-and-coming amateur athletes in the CIBC Team Next program, which provides funding and athletic and life skills mentoring to 67 amateur athletes, including 16 para-athletes, aspiring to compete at next August's Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in Toronto. Cody of Cavan, ON, a wheelchair rugby athlete, is one of the 67 CIBC Team Next athletes. He severed his spinal cord in a diving accident six years ago.
"Following my injury I found tremendous strength and motivation in sport," says Cody. "Mentors like Josh and Stephanie, who have excelled on the world stage in their respective sports, inspire me to continue to push myself even further. I am really looking forward to the Parapan Am Games next summer and I know that having the chance to watch world class athletes compete on our home turf will help inspire a new generation of para-athletes here in Canada."
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About CIBC Team Next
CIBC Team Next is the first program of its kind in Canada that supports the next generation of amateur athletes with not only financial support but mentorship from world-renowned Canadian athlete champions. As the Lead Partner of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, CIBC is investing $2 million in this program to help 67 amateur athletes, including 16 para-athletes, from across Canada reach their full potential on and off the field.
About CIBC's Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and Canadian Paralympic Team
As the Lead Partner of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and proud Premier Partner of the Canadian Paralympic Team, CIBC is committed to enriching Canadian communities through the power of sport. We support causes that matter to our clients, our employees and our communities and aim to make a difference in communities through corporate donations, sponsorships and the volunteer spirit of employees.
Image with caption: "CIBC Team Next athlete, Cody Caldwell, and mentor, Stephanie Dixon, inspired kids at Variety Village on the one year countdown to the TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games with help from Mascot PACHI. (CNW Group/CIBC)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140807_C9640_PHOTO_EN_42365.jpg