Paralympic star Sarah Gillies inspires Island Lake PS students
November 9, 2017
A rising Paralympic star from Orangeville is inspiring students to never give up.
Sarah Gillies was at Island Lake Public School on November 8 to share her story and personal experience with overcoming obstacles. The Grade 10 student at Orangeville District Secondary School (ODSS) was born with fibular hemimelia and became a right lower leg amputee at seven months old.
The visit, which coincided with the school’s Perseverance Assembly, was part of the Petro-Canada FACE (Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence) program. Gillies was recently identified through the program as a rising star in Paralympic sport.
Students from K-8 listened intently as Gillies, a former Island Lake student, shared her story and proudly displayed her prosthetic.
“When I was growing up it was difficult, because I didn’t want people to see my leg. I actually wore pants to school every day when I was young, even when it was hot out,” Gillies told the students. “I didn’t like being an amputee.”
“But then I realized that with hard work and perseverance I could still compete with able-bodied athletes in the sports I love, so it gave me a lot of confidence.”
“My message today is don’t give up when things get hard, because if you stick with it great things are usually just around the corner.”
Gillies trophy cabinet already contains two Canada Games medals in alpine skiing and she also holds the OFSAA record in the 800 metre ambulatory category.
Petro-Canada FACE grants of $5,000 are awarded to athletes (and $5,000 to their coach) deemed to have great potential to represent Canada at Olympic and Paralympic Games. Only 55 athletes across the country received the honour.
After speaking with the students, Gillies helped present a special framed photo to the school on behalf of the FACE program.
“We’re so proud of Sarah here at Island Lake,” said Island Lake Principal Sean Singh. “All of the students were hanging on her every word, and I know they’ll remember this assembly.”