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Life Stories by Gerald W. Hankins


ROLLING ON:
The Story of the Amazing Gary McPherson
 

Gary McPherson of Edmonton, Alberta is without a doubt a man unique among men. Born in 1946, he contracted polio during the ravaging epidemic of 1955 and ended up in an iron lung with a tracheotomy for two years. His life hung in the balance thereafter. He remains a quadriplegic, with just enough coarse movement in his left hand to click a mouse and enough strength in his left leg to push his wheelchair backwards a few feet. As a teenager he learned "frog breathing" to make up for a paralyzed diaphragm.

During his 34 years in hospital he learned amateur radio, computer programming and coached a mixed slow-pitch ball team to championship level. He served in several executive positions with the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association. As general manager, he took the Alberta Northern Lights Wheelchair Basketball Team from a recreational group of players to become one of the top teams in North America.

I met Gary in 1995 at the University of Alberta Convocation when he was awarded an Honourary Degree and gave the convocation address. At that time he was chairman of the Premier's Council for the Status of People with Disabilities, an advisory body to the Alberta Government. In 1998 he retired from the job after 10 years.

He is now a professor in the Faculty of Business at the University of Alberta, and executive-director of the newly-formed Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.

In the basement of his modest Edmonton home are enough trophies, awards and plaques to fill a large display case.

Gary can't feed himself, comb his hair or go to the toilet without help. Yet he has overcome massive obstacles to achieve things far beyond the capabilities of most of us. Bob Chelmick, former news anchorman for Edmonton's CBC-TV, has described Gary's career as a "powerfully inspiring story." Now a producer, Bob is preparing a documentary about Gary.

I wrote about Gary McPherson because I firmly believe that his is a remarkable story about a remarkable man who over the years has overcome a huge handicap and gone on to live life to the full. I have been constantly amazed how many lives he has touched and enriched.

[Click here to read the Preface of Rolling On]


Copyright© 2007
Gerald W. Hankins. All rights reserved.
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