By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
An Oshawa native is one step closer to achieving his dream of participating in the 2018 Paralympic Games.
Para-snowboarder Andrew Genge, who grew up in Durham Region and currently lives in Whistler, B.C., is now on the road to next year’s games, which will be held in March 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
After suffering a stroke in a rugby game in 2004, Genge was paralyzed on the right side of his body, left unable to walk or talk. Lasting effects of the injury include weakness in his right hand.
“I tackled a 300-pound adolescent which went horribly wrong,” Genge wrote of the incident on his GoFundMe page. “My fractured jawbone sheered the carotid artery, causing a 12 cm blood blot to form and travel up into my brain.”
Since then, Genge says he has regained around 80 per cent mobility in both his right leg and right arm.
Although he was told at the time of his injury he wouldn’t fully regain mobility in his right side, he remained positive and undeterred.
“I was very determined to get it all back,” he says.
Prior to his injury, snowboarding was purely a recreational activity for Genge, but eventually, it became something he was pursuing more seriously.
“I thought I would check the competitive side of it and that lead me into it,” he recalls, stating that the Paralympic Games have “been the dream since I started competing.”
Although he hasn’t punched his ticket yet, with competitions still to come in Finland and Holland, Genge says he is “fairly confident” he will qualify for the South Korea games.
Due to his mobility issues, the biggest challenge he faces out on the slopes is his balance.
“It’s an issue I have and am still working on. I may get a little twisted and have to compensate to get myself back on track,” he states. “I’m really focused on the ground.”
Genge was recently selected by Petro-Canada as one of 55 Olympic and Paralympic athletes across Canada to receive a grant from the company’s Fuelling Athletes and Coaching Excellence (FACE) program.
This $5,000 grant will assist Genge’s with travel costs associated with his training and competition schedule.
While the 29-year-old says he is “extremely excited” for the support, it only covers a “small bit” of his total expenses for training.
“My coaches came up with a cost estimate and it comes out to something like $22,000,” Genge.
He has been actively fundraising over the past year, hosting events and setting up a GoFundMe page which has raised about $3,800 so far.
The page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/2euk7zxg
Regardless of whether he achieves his goal of competing in Pyeongchang next year, he plans to return to his hometown and attend Durham College to continue his nursing career.