In honour of my sister

I’ve always been fascinated with photographs, I used to love to look at family pictures. I could stare for hours, especially as kid. I remember walking up the stairs of my two story house and getting lost in the pictures on the wall while I ascended the stairs. There were pictures of this baby girl and she stood out so much because she had the biggest smile on her face in all her pictures. I learned she was my older sister who passed away right before I was born, “she’s in heaven now” my mom would always say. As I got older my curiosity grew about her, her name was Selina Adene Hodgkinson and she was born with Down Syndrome. My parents tried to explain it in simple terms for me “She had holes in her heart and her lungs collapsed”, The gravity of the situation never hit me till I was older. She had died from complications of open heart surgery at 14 months, while at B.C. Children’s hospital. The grief of going through the death of a child is unimaginable to me, my mom has told me on numerous occasions that I had saved her life. Stricken with immense grief from the loss of her child and loss of her brother all with in just months of each other she had lost the will to live. She then found out she was pregnant with me, and that gave her a reason to continue on.  I always knew I wanted to do something in her memory for my parents, I had thought of starting a charity for kids with Down Syndrome and that I would use professional lacrosse as my avenue to do so. I was never quite established enough as a player to get that off the ground, but the goal of doing something in her memory had never died.

So one day I get a call from a former teammate Bobby Debrone, now I knew Bob worked for the Special Olympics but I thought he was just calling me for workout advice or something.  When he asked me if I wanted to volunteer with the Special Olympics and be the head power-lifting coach I didn’t think twice.  It was a no brainer for me, this was going to be my way of honouring my sister.  So the wheels were in motion and I came to Deanna and Sandy and asked if they would be willing to donate the space, they looked at it as a no brainer too.

I was unaware that the Special Olympics was a year round program that helped introduce people with special needs to all different kinds of sport, they wanted to bring powerlifting to Victoria because there was a big interest in it.  It is a 12 week trial and they wanted to see how it would go and if it was something they wanted to continue to offer.


Photo Credit – Charla Huber – Goldstream News Gazette

So the day I really knew this whole thing was meant to be was when I found out that the three young men I’d be working with have Downs, it made me even more excited to meet Scott, Neil (The brothers) and Kyle (Who lives with Scott and Neil). Our first meeting was great, we shared a few laughs and showed off our biceps.  Kyle who is 23 was so excited about the whole thing he dropped down and started banging out pushups. Caroline who is Scott and Neil’s mother and caregiver to Kyle, informed me that Neil wouldn’t be participating because he was just diagnosed with clinical depression and hadn’t been eating much and lost weight.  So the next week we started our first session and it was pretty successful, I soon found out Kyle was a natural with the deadlift and Scott was eager to learn, Neil was quiet and stood off on the sidelines and watched.  We’ve made huge progress since that first day, form has improved and the boys have been adding more and more weight.  Neil is even starting to participate, his whole demeanor has changed and he’s starting to come out of his shell.  Neil is laughing and talking just as much as the other boys now and he’s even started eating more, I can see something has changed in his eyes, is it from the power-lifting? I’m not sure, but I really hope that it has something to do with it.

The one thing I found inaccurate from the article that “Goldstream Gazette” put out was how the boys were tentative about lifting.  The boys were always super eager to lift, they’ve never complained once.  Just like the weight, our bond has increased too!  The guys all have a great sense of humour and we laugh and have a lot of fun in the process.  I’d like to continue our friendship even after this awesome experience is over.  Even if we never end up in a single competition I hope this will give the boys more confidence in life and have an impact on them, I hope lifting can do for them what it’s done for my life.

~ Coach Ray

Please check out the article posted in the Goldstream Gazette –

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: We are creating “Zone Crew” shirts again this year to sponsor our athletes to get to Regionals.  They will be sold for $20 donation (minimum) for the team.  I was just informed that we need to get sizes and numbers in Tuesday am so they are ordered in time for printing.  We will be getting unisex sized American Apparel shirts.  If you know you would like to get a t-shirt to sponsor the team (even if you are unable to make it to Regionals), please email your size.  Sorry for the late notice!

Open Gym (downtown)

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