(Ottawa, ON) -- The Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association offers its condolences on the loss of long-time wheelchair sports athlete and advocate Paul Desjardins. For over 30 years, Desjardins tirelessly promoted wheelchair sports and the rights of people with physical disabilities in Québec. He was 53.
“Paul stubbornly defended the rights of physically disabled people, especially those with more severe disabilities,” said CWSA President Donald Royer. “He was also a dedicated volunteer and a fine negotiator when it was time to promote wheelchair sports in his region and across Québec.”
Desjardins sustained a spinal cord injury playing Bantam hockey over 30 years ago. He began playing wheelchair rugby and was a driving force behind the Kodiaks des Laurentides team, which won a provincial championship title in 1998. In 2012, he took up boccia and was training to make the provincial team.
“He lived to promote and advocate for the rights of disabled people through sports and leisure,” remembers Paralympian Marco Dispaltro. “Paul always pushed the envelope and wasn’t afraid to ruffle feathers to champion the rights of people with disabilities throughout the region.”
Desjardins gave back to the wheelchair sports community by serving for many years on the Board of Directors of L'Association québécoise des sports en fauteuil roulant, which became Parasports Québec. In that role, he spearheaded many fundraising efforts, including charity golf tournaments. In 2011, he was named President of Parasports Québec. Until recently, Desjardins also worked for L'Association régionale des loisirs et sports pour personnes handicapées des Laurentides to promoting and developing sports in the area.
For 30 years, Desjardins was also active politically in MRC de Thérèse de Blainville fighting for integration and the rights of people with disabilities. He even ran as a candidate in two municipal elections.
The viewing of Desjardins will be held at Les Résidences Funéraires Goyer Ltée at 57 rue Turgeon in Ste-Thérèse (Qc) J7E 3H5, Thursday January 30th, from 2 pm to 5 pm and 7 pm to 10 pm. The funeral service will take place Friday, January 31st at 11h00 in the Église Ste-Thérèese d'Avila, 10 rue de l'Église in Ste-Thérèese (Qc) J7E 3L1