It takes determination, initiative and an absolute refusal to settle for anything less than the best to really push the boundaries of what people with disability can achieve. Two Canadian men are doing just that.
Rand Surbey has cerebral palsy and his friend Jason helps him train to enter big sporting events, such as half marathons and Tough Mudder.
Together they are raising awareness of the obstacles experienced by people with disability in everyday life, and tackling the issue of adults with disability being included in ‘fun’ activities.
“There are not many ways or options to include adults in activities like the Tough Mudder or other extreme outdoor adventures,” Jason said.
Rand and Jason are determined that Rand should live a fun, inspiring and completely fulfilled life, and not let anything stop him from doing exactly what he wants to do.
So, together they created a custom-made athletic wheelchair – which is lightweight, agile and affordable – and other special equipment to enable Rand’s participation. Amazingly, they did this with just a few fundraisers and on a very tight budget.
“The first thing we needed to do was break down the stereotypes that both of us were tagged with by society. The first was that it was not feasible or necessary to include people like Rand in activities other than ones specifically tailored to his abilities,” Jason said.
“We needed to find creative ways to acquire the special equipment necessary to safely allow him to ‘walk’ side by side with his team as opposed to sitting on the sidelines and watching.”
“The second was that I, as a non-related and unpaid caregiver, could do this with him and for him. There are very few resources for ‘friends’ who want to help and if you are not family by blood, you don’t really count.”
“We then needed to complete a number of activities safely before we would be taken seriously and to prove that it can indeed be done safely and rewardingly,” he said.
Together, Rand and Jason are working hard to break records and stereotypes. In 2013, they completed a half marathon in 1:34, a time that is currently awaiting recognition by Guinness World Records as the fastest time recorded doing a half marathon pushing a wheelchair.
“Over the years Rand and I have worked tirelessly to promote inclusivity for everyone regardless of their abilities, disabilities, age, gender, or finances. The current world record for a team like ours in a sanctioned half marathon is 2 hours 30 minutes. Our slowest official time so far is under 1:45 and our best is 1:34,” Jason said.
The impact of their achievements so far has been huge on the pair, and their efforts have been inspirational to so many looking on.
“It has opened up a world otherwise inaccessible to Rand, and opened my eyes to a world otherwise unknown to me. I have experienced through his trials and obstacles what it is to live entirely below eye level, both literally and figuratively,” Jason said.
“What we have achieved has shown me that nobody should be forgotten. Nobody should have invisibility as a disability regardless of age, finances, family support or lack thereof.”
“We hope to have reset the bar for others now and into the future. Never let society typecast you into what they want. Find ways to do exactly what you want,” he said.
In 2012, Rand and Jason also started a movement called Symbiathletic to bring together dedicated athletes of all abilities. Symbiathletic acts as a catalyst to facilitate the participation of people with a disability in a wide range of physical and social activities that previously may have been unavailable to them.
Join us on the Map
- Symbiathletic Facebook page
- Breakfast TV Vancouver interview Scotiabank Half Marathon 2016
- FEAT Canada : Tough Isn’t Enough (2015)
- Global News Canada: One extremely Tough Mudder completes course in his wheelchair (2014)