“Not everyone is meant to make a difference. But for me, the choice to lead an ordinary life is no longer an option. story of my life is not for the faint of heart. If somebody told you I was just your average ordinary guy, not a care in the world… somebody lied. Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is my gift” – Peter Parker, Spiderman
The Olympics are always a time of great inspiration and bringing together of cultures, nationalities, communities, friends and families. It’s a time when we see the top athletes around the world compete for their respected country and more importantly for the sport they love. And they do so with such passion, intensity, vigor and dedication.
This foundation isn’t reserved only for those who claim the Olympic title, but for anyone who challenged themselves to endure and aim for greatness. The personal stamina and kind of dedication and commitment can be found in some of the most uncommon of people… however, when you get to know them – you can see that they aren’t so uncommon at all, they actually exude all the common traits that define, not only an elite athlete, but an elite individual. And with the Olympic fever coming to a close, I wanted to celebrate an epic 2 week journey of outstanding excellence, with some of our very own “SuperHERO Olympians” – power peeps who inspire me.
This post is dedicated to 5 people who go above and beyond the call of duty and personal expectations set forth. 5 people who aspire to constantly challenge all faucets of their lives; both professional and personal and they do so with an unwavering tenacity to face fear, excel with purpose and foster community beyond their personal best. These 5 are not only top athletes in their chosen sport, but dedicate themselves to a greater calling, something we can all learn from – personal greatness.
My SuperHERO Olympians…
Chuck Fortier – ERT New West Police Department Constable, Inronman Triathlete, Superhero
This list of athletic accomplishments of this French Canadian born native is longer than I have room for on my blog, but most recently, Chuck’s extra-ordinary challenges have included his most recent Xterra races in both Whistler Canada, and Xterra France! An accomplished Ironman finisher (Ironman Canada, finishing in 11 hours and 2mins), Chuck also raced for Canada this past year as a age grouper in the ITU cross world championship finishing 13 out of 26. If that wasn’t tiring enough just reading, Chuck is currently gearing up for the Canadian Triathlon Championships in just a few short weeks and then off to complete in Worlds! Not an easy challenge for most any average Joe to take on – but Chuck ain’t your average Joe. Chuck is also….Constable Chuck Fortier, of the ERT team with the New West Police Department. The ERT division is a specialized team within the police department that is called out to negotiate and resolve highly sensitive situations and criminal activity – Canadian SWAT you could call it. They get all the cool toys like superheroes.
Chuck played an integral role in our Vancouver Olympics as security detail for our Olympic torch relay athletes. Funnily enough, he was the security detail for another one of my top 5 inspiring local peeps Stephanie McCann who is featured below (yes, yes, they are now a couple, but that’s another amazing story). As part of the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit Chuck was awarded a letter and certificate of appreciation; which is a highly regarded accreditation in his field. Apart from the 12 hour shift work, training for an Ironman is like taking on another full time job to clock the hours needed to build up to race day and this guy makes it look easy. Humbled and nonchalantly as I question him about what drives him to excel his response his “I am not extra-ordinary; I am just another regular guy.” Like most people in public safety flying under the radar and quietly assisting the community is a common strength amongst those who walk the front lines and is an admirable quality to instill in our next generation. This past year has been a test of his strength with losses in his family and with any tragedy of loss there is a moment in time where we contemplate our life’s path, but Chuck has always kept his eyes forward and has regularly turned tragedy into triumph – and for that I give him a standing ovation.
His blog “Journey of a Brand Champion” is an on-going series of inspirational messages and should be one you follow regularly.
- Journey of a Brand Champion – http://journeyofabrandchampion.blogspot.ca/
Phil Marchand – ACMG Ski Guide, Photographer, Videographer, Superhero
There are certain people I come across in my life, that have such a profound impact on me – that they literally stop me in my tracks and I find I am at a loss to properly articulate their awe-someness. Phil Marchand is one of these people. As a professional ACMG Ski Guide and adventure ski mountaineer (which have taken him all over the world,); he is also a professional photographer and his images are of epic grandeur. But what makes Phil an inspiration is not only his daring feats of back country ski traverses and ski guiding whilst hopping out of a helicopter (ok so you don’t actually “hop” out of it, but you get the gist). What makes Phil an even larger inspiration to me, is what happened to him in September of 2009. One day Phil’s foot and leg started to go numb, then a few days later his torso and hands and on September 22nd (3 days after his initial symptoms) he was admitted to the Neuro ICU at VGH and by the end of the weekend he would lose his ability to walk, his body began to shut down and the descending paralysis would take over his life and leave him paralyzed for 4 long months. After months of testing; doctors still couldn’t fully diagnose his condition, but the closest diagnosis would be Guillaine Barre Syndrome, a rare auto-immune syndrome that affects 1 in 500,000 people and attacks the nervous system causing whole body paralysis and sometimes death.
Phil, would be one of those 1 in 500,000 and incredibly lucky, he survived. But it would be a long road to recovery with bouts of morphine to combat the intense pain, long hours of rehabilitation and learning the finite movements we take for granted every day – like walking! Yes, through all of this Phil has remained hopeful and says this quote is what gets him through the hardships… “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in comfort or convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King.
Phil continues to work at the top of his game as a professional ski guide and this set back has not deterred him in the least. Yes, there are some minor neurological components Phil has to endure every day, but to the untrained eye no one would ever know and to be quite Frank – I have always believed that our “vulnerabilities” are what make us beautiful and what define our strength of character. As a videographer and photographer, his images continue to gain international acclaim and his story is one that will no doubt be seen on the big screen in the future. His most recent work is featured in the online event “The Open,” where the world’s top photographers submit their work in a race to win $50,000 (pssst – get on and vote for him). He remains humble about his experience and all that he has accomplished. In short – he is awe inspiring.
- Phil Marchand Images – http://www.philmarchandimages.com/
- Vote for Phil Marchand at “The Open” – http://www.theworldopen.com/portfolio/phil-marchand/9362#.UBwEGQiiK7w.facebook
- Come ski with Phil – http://www.powderguides.ca , coming soon! Photo by Jonathan Rhéaume, David Maurice Smith
Stephanie McCann – Olympic Athlete Pole Vault & Superhero
Graduating ‘Magna Cum Laude’ from Azusa Pacific University with a Bachelor’s in Applied Health (transferring from SFU after 3 years in Kinesiology) she is now making her mark by gaining a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy from UBC, starting this September. Her professional resume includes; a N.A.S.MCPT certification, Fully certified STOTT Pilates instructor-Level 1 and 2, FMS level 2 and many more and this is only one fragment of her inspiring career. Stephanie McCann is also an Olympian. I repeat – OLYMPIAN.
Her Olympic sport – Pole Vaulting! Stephanie was a 6x Canadian record holder for the Pole Vault from 2001-2003. She finished fifth at the2001 Summer Universiade and tenth at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Winning the bronze medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the 2003 Pan American Games, as well as the 2006 Commonwealth Games, she also competed at the World Championships in 2001 and 2003. This woman is a force to be reckoned with. Anyone who can catapult their frame vertically upside down and vault their body over a ridiculous heighted bar is seriously a Superhero in my books and the woman’s physique is what we in the industry call “jacked” because she has the training routine of a champion.
Her Olympic accreditations and career aspirations are only the tip of the inspirational iceberg. Steph’s also an active volunteer with youth and vulnerable populations and is an advocate for youth and sport. Currently, she actively supports the BCMOS-(BC Mobility Opportunity Society) and as her roommate (you read that right – she is my roommate) she keeps me on my toes and inspires me to get my own hind parts off the couch! That I know will shock many of you, since you already know how “sporty” I am. Steph is one of those amazing people who has accomplished so much in such a short fragment of time, yet she stays true to her roots and humbly credits her past coaches and team for her success. If you were ever looking for a Canadian who honors her country and is a role model for young Canadian women –Steph would be at the top of your list, and she sure is at the top of mine.
- Stephanie McCann – http://www.stephmccann.ca/r/
Charlie Bewley – Actor, Ultrarunner Philanthropist , Superhero
This name doesn’t really need an introduction, Charlie is an English actor best known for his role as the vampire Demetri in The Twilight Saga films, as well as “Like Crazy” and “Soldiers of Fortune.” Most recently, Charlie is working on the upcoming movie “Hammer of the Gods,” by Vertigo Films. Set in Viking Britain in 871 AD, Hammer of the Gods is described as “a visceral, intense tale set in a world whose only language is violence”. His acting career and talent as an actor is not the sole reason why I find him an inspiration, it’s what he does under the radar that accredits this notable status. Charlie is the founder of “Run for Your Life,” much like my RUN4ACAUSE Charlie’s Run for Your Life is an Idea that he literally RUNS WITH to support organizations like the BC Cancer Foundation and FUCK Cancer (pardon my French) that is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of cancer.
I met Charlie in April of 2011 at the BMO Marathon expo. After hearing about his upcoming run; which would include the BMO marathon, as well as running a half marathon before the actual start of the marathon (you can do the math – 63km) I had to find out his “why,” what drives him to the insanity…of well…. Ultra running. Stealthly, I found him on facebook and we found an instant mutual appreciation for the art of running insane distances to bring awareness to causes we support. Charlie ran his 63km in honor of his late friend Jocelyn Clarke, a local stunt double who passed of cancer during the filming of the Twilight Saga. Through his running, Charlie has raised well over $20,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation in honor of her memory. “To see someone with such radiance and vitality go through what she went through will stay with me forever,” Bewley said in an interview with Metro Vancouver last year.
His stamina and dedication on and off the screen is unwavering. Charlie sets the bar high and this is reflected in both his professional work and his personal relationships with friends and family. His fans love him, and why wouldn’t they? He is of the highest caliber and I am honored to consider him a friend. Charlie, recently won the Underwear Affair 10km race in Vancouver wearing a very bright pair of socks…. (oh… and a black and orange speedo – nice touch for the ladies, we appreciate it).
And I am freaking honored beyond words to be his teammate in the upcoming Super Spartan 14km race in Squamish on September 22! Yes, we two “Vikings” are crashing the Spartan Party Team “Hammer of the Gods” are preparing for Glory! To stay up to date on Charlie’s most recent ventures you can check him out at the below link:
- Charlie Bewley Official Website – http://www.charliebewley.com/soon/
Steve Addison – Vancouver Police Constable, Ironman Triathlete, Journalist, Superhero
Joining the Vancouver Police Department in 2006, Constable Steve Addison is not your regular police officer. Having spent many years in B.C’s community newspaper industry as a reporter, Steve is also the man behind “Eastside Stories, The Diary of a Beat Cop,’ online blog series. Eastside Stories was created to give you a glimpse into the life of a police officer on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. There is perhaps no other place in the country that is as infamous, as political or as misunderstood as the DTES. His depiction of real life events of addiction, mental health and activity on the DTES, allows us insight into the real and raw lives of those most affected by poverty, crime and vulnerability.
Yet, what makes Steve inspiring is not just his professional role on the front lines at Ground Zero, but his dedication to inspiring others through his sport; which just so happens to be Ironman Canada. I had the pleasure of talking to Steve earlier this year about his decision to change careers, his training for Ironman and his grueling training schedule; as well as, his desire to link his training and sport with a great cause and support inner city sport programs for kids and youth less fortunate. Steve competed in Ironman Canada in 2010 and is currently training for this year’s Ironman Canada! I mean hell, if you do it once – you may as well do it again! His character is professional, empathetic and at times comical during our witty banter. It’s a gutsy move putting yourself on the spot and in the eye of scrutiny, but Steve is one of those guys who can hold his own, tell it how it is and then empower you to walk with him along his journey.
- East Side Stories Blog – http://www.beatcopdiary.vpd.ca/
- THE BEAT Season 2 on ONL – http://www.oln.ca/details.php?id=99
Have I left you inspired? I hope so! Giddy up!