Born missing his right hand and foot, Jeffrey Beausoleil is used to overcoming obstacles life throws at him.
He spent the weekend overcoming obstacles of a different sort, however, competing in Spartan Race Calgary at the Wild Rose MX Park.
“Life is hard but you can do whatever you want,” he said. “Even if you have a disability, you can do whatever you want in your life. Sometimes you’re going to have obstacles to overcome in life, but you will be able to overcome them. Don’t give up. You can’t give up, and believe in yourself.”
Beausoleil competes in Spartan Races — this weekend marked his 11th and 12th events — as a fundraiser for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Canada, located in Montreal, where he has been a patient since he was five months old.
“I’m also running to prove to everybody that even if you have a disability, you can do whatever you want with your life, nothing should prevent you from doing what you want,” he said.
Spartan Races see competitors run, jump, climb and crawl over a series of obstacles on a five-kilometre (sprint) course, held Saturday, and a longer super course on Sunday.
Beausoleil managed to raise $10,000 two years ago and says he’d like to at least match that amount this year.
He says he’s motivated by fellow patients at Shriners Hospital, “that might have difficulty to believe in themselves, or want to do something they think they cannot do, and when they see me they do it.”
And he doesn’t do it alone.
His best friend, Michel Sirois, joins him in the races to offer moral — and physical — support where needed.
“Sometimes there are obstacles that are harder than others. Sometimes you need two hands or you have super heavy charges you have to walk around with … so he’s there to help me,” he said.
Beausoleil’s father, brother and grandfather also joined him in Calgary, taking part in the race.
The two friends met in high school, and Sirois says he’s always treated Beausoleil as able-bodied.
“I always do a lot of work in my backyard … and I always give him two gloves, things like that,” he said. “I never notice Jeff for his handicap.”
Bill Miller, chairman of board of governors for Shriners Hospital for Children Canada, said Beausoleil’s efforts are invaluable for the organization, but it’s about much more than money.
“Not only to the patients, but it is to us as Shriners, an inspiration,” he said.
“It puts meaning to everything we do, to raise funds, to drive our funny little cars and airplanes in parades … not only in Calgary, but across Canada.”
Miller said the Shriners hospital in Canada expects to treat 25,000 patients this year from 80 countries and runs on a $36 million budget, much of which comes from fundraising.
“He’s such an amazing young man, the things he does in this race I couldn’t do,” he said.
The two friends are already looking forward to their next Spartan Race, happening in September.
“When I finish a Spartan Race I always feel so accomplished. It’s super hard,” said Beausoleil. “Even when I finish this one today, I’m probably going to cry.”
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