Born missing his right hand and foot, Jeffrey Beausoleil is used to overcoming obstacles life throws at him.
He spent the weekend overcoming obstacles of a different sort, however, competing in Spartan Race Calgary at the Wild Rose MX Park.
“Life is hard but you can do whatever you want,” he said. “Even if you have a disability, you can do whatever you want in your life. Sometimes you’re going to have obstacles to overcome in life, but you will be able to overcome them. Don’t give up. You can’t give up, and believe in yourself.”
Beausoleil competes in Spartan Races — this weekend marked his 11th and 12th events — as a fundraiser for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Canada, located in Montreal, where he has been a patient since he was five months old.
“I’m also running to prove to everybody that even if you have a disability, you can do whatever you want with your life, nothing should prevent you from doing what you want,” he said.
Spartan Races see competitors run, jump, climb and crawl over a series of obstacles on a five-kilometre (sprint) course, held Saturday, and a longer super course on Sunday.
Beausoleil managed to raise $10,000 two years ago and says he’d like to at least match that amount this year.
He says he’s motivated by fellow patients at Shriners Hospital, “that might have difficulty to believe in themselves, or want to do something they think they cannot do, and when they see me they do it.”
And he doesn’t do it alone.
His best friend, Michel Sirois, joins him in the races to offer moral — and physical — support where needed.
“Sometimes there are obstacles that are harder than others. Sometimes you need two hands or you have super heavy charges you have to walk around with … so he’s there to help me,” he said.
Beausoleil’s father, brother and grandfather also joined him in Calgary, taking part in the race.
The two friends met in high school, and Sirois says he’s always treated Beausoleil as able-bodied.
“I always do a lot of work in my backyard … and I always give him two gloves, things like that,” he said. “I never notice Jeff for his handicap.”
Bill Miller, chairman of board of governors for Shriners Hospital for Children Canada, said Beausoleil’s efforts are invaluable for the organization, but it’s about much more than money.
“Not only to the patients, but it is to us as Shriners, an inspiration,” he said.
“It puts meaning to everything we do, to raise funds, to drive our funny little cars and airplanes in parades … not only in Calgary, but across Canada.”
Miller said the Shriners hospital in Canada expects to treat 25,000 patients this year from 80 countries and runs on a $36 million budget, much of which comes from fundraising.
“He’s such an amazing young man, the things he does in this race I couldn’t do,” he said.
The two friends are already looking forward to their next Spartan Race, happening in September.
“When I finish a Spartan Race I always feel so accomplished. It’s super hard,” said Beausoleil. “Even when I finish this one today, I’m probably going to cry.”
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Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area. It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary, generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road). Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.
Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016, Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.
Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton. The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.