Randy... A Free Spirit

by Andrew Plaudis

Randy lives his life without boundaries. Although he has a rare neuromuscular disorder that has rendered him blind and paralyzed from the neck down, the 51-year-old’s spirit is remarkably free. He has chosen to face his challenges upfront and believes any obstacle can be overcome.

“I enjoy life and I love people,” Randy said. “I decided from the beginning that I would face all my losses and take them on as a challenge and not as a defeat.”

The effects of Randy's disability started at the age of 12. He found most of his friends supportive, although some drifted away because they found it too difficult to watch his health decline. He credits his family with doing the best they could under the circumstances.

“One of the things I truly thank them for is that I didn’t receive any special treatment from them and I believe it’s the reason I have learned to live with my disabilities and appreciate what I have,” Randy said.

In 2006, Randy underwent a tracheotomy procedure. While recovering from the operation, he needed equipment and called the Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario for help. He received the assistance he needed. Impressed with CPA Ontario’s response, he decided to volunteer.

Randy has been working as a Peer Support Volunteer for the last four years. He is very knowledgeable about disability services and feels he can use this expertise to help others.

“It’s a gratifying feeling to know that I can do some good,” Randy said. “(The people employed with) CPA Ontario are the most devoted group of individuals and they will help in any way possible.”

Randy feels that the public is becoming more aware of the needs of people with disabilities.

“Accessibility is also improving, but I feel we still have a long way to go in order to gain access everywhere,” he said.

Randy maintains a positive attitude and has learned to appreciate every new day.

“Despite what seems to me to be a bleak future, I remain optimistic that things will work out.”