Hometown: Whitby, Ontario
Hisham Mohammad was born with spinal atrophy, a condition that causes severe muscle weakness. Rehabilitation services were almost non-existent in his native Saudi Arabia and finding even basic equipment like a wheelchair was difficult.
Even more difficult was finding a school that would accept him. His parents spent hours in discussions with school officials and medical suppliers trying to get their son the education and services he needed.
When his family immigrated to Canada in 2002 a whole new world of opportunity opened up for seven-year-old Hisham. At the Bloorview Centre in Toronto they saw videos of children racing, playing hockey and basketball in wheelchairs.
His mother Fahmida recalls, "Hisham was so excited when he saw what the children were able to do. Right away he said I want to do that. I want to try all of those sports too!"
It was also at Bloorview that Hisham first learned about Rick Hansen. He was inspired by Rick's many achievements and his "nobility of purpose."
"Because Rick Hansen is also a paraplegic," says Hisham, "his story proved to me that anything is possible for people like me."
Today at 14, Hisham is active in wheelchair sports. His teams have won gold medals at the provincial Paralympic Games in both relay racing and wheelchair basketball.
"I don't think about my disability; I am too busy trying new things, getting involved and staying active. If you think about it, everyone has a disability of some kind. My message to young people and to other kids with a disability is: Have the courage to try new things; there are lots of opportunities out there to get involved and make new friends; try your best, don't be afraid and never give up."
Hisham carried the Rick Hansen Medal on day 75 of the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay in Toronto, Ontario.
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