As I sit on the plane coming home from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver I think to myself, How? How have I been able to do everything that I have done in my life so far.
Some would say it comes back to “Never Give up on Your Dreams” but for me it’s more about “I have Never been alone or had to do it on my own”. As most of you have already read the blog from Mom and Dad, mine tends to follow in what they have said. I have never been afraid to try anything once; I never knew how good I could be at something until I tried. I was not good at everything, but I still never let that stop me from trying. Over 20 plus years ago I went to tryout for a team that I thought I would never make, and now since those 20 plus years have passed I could have never done it for as long as I did without the support or my family, friends and community. Some may think of this as a good bye to a sport that has been my life for so many years. For me it’s not good-bye but time to see what my parents have talked about for so long.
I knew going into these games that they would be my last Paralympics. If you had asked me back in 1994 how long do you think you will continue to play, my answer would have been, I’m lucky enough to have gone to this one. Five Paralympics later, the crowds have grown, the fans have grown, the sports have grown, but most importantly we have all grown into what we have become.
When my life changed on December 18, 1987. I could have never guessed this is where I would be. Not only do I have a loving and caring wife in Emily, two beautiful children in Gwen and Tate and group of friends that would drop everything with a simple question “I need some help”. But I come from a country that not only forgives us as athletes but also allows us to grow as a country. While sitting on the plane today I had a number of people come up to me and say, “Thanks for the Games.” Believe me I wish I could have pulled a Gold medal out of my bag, or even a medal to show them what we had accomplished but I realized a couple of days ago that we have done something even more important than any medal. With the 2010 Winter Games here in Canada we have opened the eyes of the world to Paralympics Sport. For the first time in over 20 years, not only do I not have to explain my sport to the people that I am sitting beside on the plane but we are being recognized as athletes that are entertaining the world on the big stage. Paralympics have come along way and we can’t stop here. The media, TV, newspapers, and magazines need to continue on this sharing of information. But most important, we as athletes need to remember that as athletes we can’t do it alone. Sponsors, family, friends, communities and countries are the ones that will continue to push each and every one of us to succeed. We all need to follow our dreams and turn them into “REALITY”.
I remember a couple of days ago my father coming up to me after one of our games and talking about a young child that sat in front of them during one of the games in Vancouver. Her parents telling my dad how I was her favorite player on the team, not for what I was doing on the ice but for what I have done off the ice. That it was because of what I said at the school talk that I did in the past year, that this little girl had a grin on her face as she spoke about what I had done for her. It is because of that, the reason why I have been able to follow my dreams as long as I have and been able to turn them into reality. I can only imagine how my proud father must have felt. When he told me the story after the game I could do nothing but try and hold back the tears that were running down his cheeks. All I wanted to tell him was that he is one of the reasons why I am able to have that effect on people, when I tell them my story and about success, determination and above all else Family. He is one of the many reasons why I have grown up to be the Todd Nicholson that I am today.
As I sit on the plane coming home from my last Paralympics I realize that my accident happened for a reason. There is a family with a little 8-year-old very shy child sitting behind me. It didn’t take too long for me to start playing with the little girl. Reading books and try to entertain her while we sat through the 5-hour plane ride. I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and her answer was “ I don’t know”. She started asking me allot of questions about me and my accident and what happened. Her parents were a bit embarrassed with the questions she was asking but I didn’t mind at all. Kids are funny that way. They wouldn’t ask if there were not interested in finding out the answers. After about 45 minutes of talking to the family the little girl said to me “I want to change my answer to the questions you asked before, the question of what I want to do when I grow up.” She said I want to make a difference; I want to be able to do what you do. As I tried to hold back my tears, and those that know me will know how hard that can be at times. I said to her that if she ever needs help doing that don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.
I have asked for help my entire life. Not once has anyone ever turned me down. It may have taken some bribes at times but with that being said they have been worth each and every one.
A dream is like a river
Always changing as it flows,
Each day is a constant battle
As we follow where it goes.
I have no idea yet where my river is going to take me next. What I do know is that there will be so many more memories that we all will all be able to enjoy the ride like we have so far. Mom, Dad, Kevin, Jason and Gordie have always been my heroes. I could not have asked for a better closing ceremony than to be sitting in a hotel room in Vancouver with all our families and extended families watching it all end the same place this journey began. “The Games”. And not to worry the games will never be over for me. For the next 4 years I will be on the International Paralympic Council trying to make a difference for those that are still playing the games. Not many Canadian athletes get the chance to ever do this in their lifetime and for me I won’t let them down. Who knows some day one of your kids will be on the big stage and making a difference for the world to see.
I could not have been able to do this year without you Emily. Thanks for the past year and the years of joy and excitement that we will be able to enjoy with our kids like my parents have had the opportunity to do with my life so far.
#19 Team Canada
Go Canada Go!!!!!!!