#25: Kathy Newman

Written by Laurel Crosby

Kathy Newman was the heart and soul of BC Wheelchair Sports for over 30 years. Recruited in 1981 at a Track and Field Meet in Langley by BCWSA Board member Laurel Crosby, Kathy was hired initially as the Office Manager and was eventually named Executive Director in 1987.

So, how do we summarize a 30 year career and a Kathy Newman personality in a short article? Not easily! She is dedicated and absolutely passionate about Wheelchair Sports, she is an innovator, always ‘dreaming big” and thinking outside the box and is a strong, well respected leader, administrator, mentor and friend within the wheelchair sports world.

Kathy is a “people person”. Much of the success of BCWSA can be attributed to Kathy’s great personality and strong communications skills. One of her significant strengths is the relationships that she forms with people and is one of the reasons for the growth and development of BC Wheelchair Sports over the years. Kathy has touched the lives of many; of athletes, through recruitment, the provision of sport programs and competitions and ensuring that they had opportunities to reach their potential, of volunteers and opening their eyes to the wonderful world of wheelchair sports and of staff through her mentorship, guidance and support. She promoted BC Wheelchair Sports through her work with corporate and government sectors, affecting policy, generating funds and creating awareness.

Kathy has left BC Wheelchair with many legacies. The first is the founding of the Bridging the Gap program. This program was created to introduce people with disabilities to wheelchair sports and to provide opportunities to ensure their continuous participation. This extremely successful program serves as a model for provinces across Canada, as well as internationally. Another legacy is the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships, hosted by BCWSA, where Kathy served as co-chair of the Organizing Committee. This world class competition was a resounding success, hosting 12,000 spectators, 22, 000 web views and generating $40,000 in tickets sales. Of significant note was the development of the Wheelchair Rugby Schools program and subsequent attendance and participation of 15,000 school children at the games. Not only was it exciting to have so many students in attendance to cheer on the athletes, it was also knowing that due to the Schools Program, they were knowledgeable and aware of the game and the athletes. One of the most powerful legacies left by Kathy is the growth and development of BCWSA over three decades under her guidance and leadership.