Drew Derosier is excited at the possibility of meeting Rick Hansen

Updated: Drew Derosier the final medal bearer in Rick Hansen relay

Drew Derosier, who has grown up in a wheelchair, will be the final medal bearer when the Rick Hansen Relay comes to Revelstoke on Apr. 10.

As far he knows, Drew Derosier is the first kid to grow up in Revelstoke in a wheelchair. The 16-year-old grade 10 student at Revelstoke Secondary School has cerebral palsy, which has kept him in a wheelchair since he was born.

“It’s the only thing I’ve ever known,” he said. “It’s been pretty good for me but there’s some big challenges I have to go through.”

Derosier experienced a brain hemorrhage when he was born that damaged the part of the brain that communicates with his legs. As a result, he is unable to walk.

On Tuesday, Apr. 10, he will be the final medal bearer when the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay comes to Revelstoke. The relay is being held in honour of Hansen’s 1987 Man-in-Motion world tour, in which he circumnavigated the globe in a wheelchair to raise money for spinal cord research.

Derosier will carry the medal being used in the relay into Grizzly Plaza during the Revelstoke leg of the tour.

Despite the obvious challenges of growing up in a wheelchair, Derosier’s outlook on life is very positive and inspiring.

“I really don’t worry about what I can’t do,” he said. “There’s no use in doing that because all that really does is make you sad. I try to keep a positive outlook and do what I can.”

What he does do is sit-skiing at Silver Star resort, where they have an adaptive skiing program; biking with his father Cliff on his hand-pedalled bicycle, swimming at the aquatic centre, playing video games and watching hockey.

As Brenda Diebert told me and I found out, he also has a great sense of humour.

“When I get put under medication, I’ll be funnier,” said Derosier. “My history of medication has some pretty funny stories.”

When asked about the challenges in every-day life, Derosier mentioned he couldn’t get in and out of bed without help. He also has trouble getting around in snowy Revelstoke. At the same time, he had good things to say about the new high school, especially compared to the old one.

“The new school I’ve been enjoying,” he said. “I do have to say that was definitely a good investment. If I had to go through that crappy old school until grade 12, I wouldn’t be very happy.”

Derosier has undergone surgery five times and he’s about to experience a sixth when he travels to the Shriner’s Hospital in Portland, Or., next month for spinal fusion surgery. Compounding his issue, Derosier has lordosis, a condition that has given him a S-shaped spine and forces him to sit in a specially modified wheelchair.

“I am nervous about the surgery, like anyone, but it’s something you have to go through,” he said.

Derosier’s dream is to become a hockey play-by-play man. It’s been a dream of his since he was five and he’s grown up doing his own play-by-play while watching hockey games. A huge Canucks fan, he has been fortunate to attend several games in Vancouver.

I asked Derosier if he ever hoped to get out of a wheelchair. He said he’d been asked the same question by his doctor.

“I’m good either way. If I live in a chair, I’ll live in a chair. If I walk, I walk,” he said, adding that he expects to stay in a chair barring future scientific advances.

He said his main goal is to be able to take care of himself in his day-to-day life. As he put it – be able to get in and out of bed and in and out of his sports car without help.

“With all the medical stuff I’ve had to endure over the years – I’ve had to go through a lot of pain and go through a lot of things – but you just have to get past them and try to have fun with the life you have because you’re only alive for so long.”

***

The Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay is arriving in Revelstoke on Tuesday, Apr. 10. It will make a 30 minute sponsor stop at McDonald’s at 3:37 p.m. After that, the relay will head to the community centre for a community stop at 4:41 p.m.. The relay is scheduled to arrive in Grizzly Plaza at 5 p.m. Derosier will be the final medal bearer in the relay.

There will be speeches, a singing of O Canada, music and more when the relay arrives in the plaza. There are also plans to have musicians play on street corners to provide atmosphere during the relay.

On Apr. 11, the relay will start up again with a rally at Revelstoke Secondary School at 9:30 a.m. It will then hit the road towards Golden.

Rick Hansen’s appearance has not been confirmed. Derosier said he is hoping to meet him.

“If not, it’s not big deal but I’m still honoured to do this,” he said. “I can’t believe I was chosen, this is a big thing for me.”

The other medal bearers taking part in the relay are Chris Ball, Kendra Blakely, Talia Camozzi, Pauline Hunt, Raine Carnegie, Dzidra Gallicano, Simon Brittin, Scott Guthrie, Maria Speerbrecker, Kees Vandermeer, Drew Derosier, Emily Suchy, Laura Deslaurier, Gina Cinelli, Todd Hicks, Kitt Redhead and Jonah Deschamps.

Here is the complete schedule for the event:

3:45pm

Community content:

–       High School Jazz band

–       Radio station broadcasting live

–       Food Concessions

–       Ronald McDonald present

5:00pm

Entrance of the Final Medal-Bearer for the day – a “corridor” to the final location will be created.

 

Final Medal-Bearer’s story and comments or interview with emcee

 

Address by Mayor/Community Representative(s) or other approved speaker(s):

-Mayor designate (Linda Nixon)

 

 

 

Rick Hansen Relay team address

 

Presentation of participant medal to community + Ceremonial transfer of the medal for the conclusion of the Relay day

 

Singing of “O Canada” by the crowd / community provided talent

 

MC final thank you

 

Medal-Bearers in the crowd invited to the stage for a photo op with the medal

 

Conclusion of official content

 

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