By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Watching para athlete Sonny Davis rolling down 100 Street in his wheelchair, one is left with the impression that it is easy. His hands seem to glide as effortlessly over the wheels as the ever-present smile glides across his face. But for a number of people who took the opportunity to follow Davis up and down the streets of Morinville in a wheel chair, any inclinations that it is as easy as Davis makes it look were soon shattered.
Davis, who was diagnosed with a neural muscular disorder called Charcot Marie Tooth disease, a form of Muscular Dystrophy, began a cross-country journey May 30 to raise awareness of and funds for muscular dystrophy. Davis is in Morinville for the next few days on a St. Jean Baptiste Festival stopover in his Marathon of Freedom. On his first night in town he gave people an opportunity to see just what it is like for people who have to get around as he does.
“It’s kind of hilarious seeing all these people in wheelchairs, getting used to things that they’re kind of working through, trying to make their way in a chair,” Davis said, adding that he was grateful to Smith Music and the Morinville Fire Department for helping to make the chair aware event happen.
Sixteen-year-old David Legge was one young man who had an opportunity to follow Davis up and down 100 St. from 100 Ave. to the Home Hardware corner.
“It was a different experience, definitely,” Legge said. “You have to use a lot of arm strength when you’re going. If there was a slope or something, you’ve got to push a lot harden on one side.”
Even those who have been working closely with Davis on his Marathon of Freedom developed a new appreciation of trying to navigate life in a wheelchair.
“You walk down the street and you don’t think about it,” said Marathon of Freedom volunteer Mark Mallon. “If the sidewalk is just a little slanted and you’re in a wheelchair, you can’t let go unless you’ve got a brake.”
Paul Smith, owner of Smith Music and Marathon of Freedom manager, said that his staff, together with the Morinville Fire Department, put their heads together to come up with something to raise awareness of Davis’ cross-country journey to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy.
Davis will be in Morinville this weekend, taking part in the St. Jean Baptiste parade. Marathon of Freedom calendars and a 50/50 raffle will be available through the weekend, with some of the proceeds going to support Davis’ wheelchair journey across Canada.