Jeffrey Beausoleil, 19
- Interviewed Summer 2018
Q: Tell me a bit about what you’ve been doing.
A: Mother and father raised me without pity. They said if others could do something I could too. They didn’t want me to pity myself. When I was younger I was bullied from grade one to seven. I felt like I wasn’t normal. When Shriner’s (Hospital for Children) approached me . . . I felt this was my chance to prove to everyone that I am normal.
Q: What drives you?
A: I am doing all of this is because I want to prove to everybody that when you set your mind to something you can do whatever you want. Being disabled, in a way, is in your head. People may make themselves disabled because of excuses or because they don’t believe in themselves.I just want to prove to people that whether you have a disability or not you can do whatever you want with your life. A good way to start with this was through the Spartan Races.
Q: Could you tell me about what you do to push yourself?
A: I just want to do things that people think I would not be able to do. I have my best friend with me, and he is pushing me too. I have a great surrounding of people with me—my family and my friends. I try to make myself a better person every day.
Q: What kind of activities do you do?
A: When I was younger, I tried to do as many sports as I could, includingfootball and soccer. Today I am really more focused on my training and Spartan Races.
Q: What sports did you play as a child, and how did they go
A: Football linebacker, running, skating, longboard, skateboard. People were very supportive with me and wouldn’t pity me. Even during contact drills, they wouldn’t put me with the small guys, they would put me with the big guys. They would say ‘if you are going to play this, you are like anybody else’. Everything went well.
Q: Do you have anything you would like to say to parents?
A: Don’t pity your kids. If they want to try something let them do it. If you don’t let them explore their full potential, they will believe they are disabled. Yeah, we are disabled, but we are differently abled. Don’t prevent your kids from doing what they want. If it would not be safe for them, yeah that makes sense, but put them in a sport they can do. Let them exploit their full potential. I wouldn’t be half of the guy I am today if my parents pitied me in a way and prevented me from doing what I want.
He felt early sports let him see what he was made of.
Q: Did you play any adaptive sports in your youth?
A: No, I had never really felt like I needed to play these sports. I did play the Paralympic event in school, but I played in normal sports.
Q: Were there any particularly hard times?
A: Sometimes I would say “Oh it’s because I have a disability”. When I was playing football I would feel like I could not catch a guy because I have one foot. Aside from that—no, because people were supportive in the end.
Q: Are they any particularly good times?
A: Most of my life my disabilities have only brought positivity. Funny times came laughing at my disabilities because I am comfortable with myself. I have met so many amazing people because of my disability.
Q: Do you doubt yourself now?
A: Not really, because I know what I can be and what I can’t do. Because I know what I can and can’t do. In a way I know my limits. Sports will always be hard. You will always have times when you are down. Life is hard, even outside of sports. Life is hard and it is supposed to be hard. If it was easy it would not be worth it. You need those moments—they help you become better in a way.
Q: I feel like the support networks have helped through this.
A: Yes, you must have supportive friends and family. You need people that believe in you.
Q: Do you think you are able as anyone else to do what you want? Are you content with what you have been able to achieve so far?
A: I can do what anyone else can do. However, I am always looking to be better. If I am here today, tomorrow I want to be there.
Q: Is there anything you want to say to the kids who might be reading this?
A: Learn to love yourself, trust yourself, push yourself, and believe in yourself. Don’t let people prevent you from doing what you want. Just do what you want and what you love. Don’t let you disability prevent you from doing what you want. If you want to be a basketball player and you are in a wheelchair, play wheelchair basketball. Don’t ever not do something because you only have one arm and one foot. Because then you cant move to the next step, and then you settle.
Humbly, Jeffrey ended our interview by thanking those around him.
"Without my family I would not be here today. Without my support group, my best friend, and my family, I would not be the guy I am today.”
Jeffrey’s story speaks to the perseverance of the amputee community, as well as the power of a strong support network. Importantly, Jeffrey highlights the capability for members of the amputee community to rise to excellence. In his own words,
“yeah, we are disabled, but we are differently abled.”