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Obstacles & Opportunities

Sep 2021

Stu Starkey

Stu Starkey is blind as the result of a degenerative condition called Choroideremia. He started losing his sight in his twenties, and para sport taught him that he didn’t have to be ashamed of his vision loss.

Stu started out in able bodied swimming, and competed in rowing and para triathlon. ALSO, he’s legit a genius, and pours his brain power—AND heart—into the moving company Two Small Men with Big Hearts. Stu is passionate about giving back to the community—which is the motivation behind HIS podcast Community of Big Hearts (which you should probably subscribe and listen to!).

Stu lives in Winnipeg with his amazing wife, Lillian, and daughter, Collins. He’s a super fascinating human, and we hope you enjoy our conversation!

Aug 2021

Keely Shaw

Keely Shaw is a Paralympic cyclist who won Canada’s first medal of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games—a bronze! She has two more races coming up, and she graciously took the time to chat with us FROM TOKYO.

Keely’s story is a roller coaster! Dreams of playing Olympic hockey, a fall from a horse, a brain injury resulting in left-sided weakness, and struggles with disordered eating. Keely’s determination shines through, and once she discovered para sport, there was no stopping her. She began her cycling career in 2017, and found her first World Championships podium in 2019!

Not only is Keely an elite cyclist, she’s also working on her PhD… pretty much specializing in sport and chocolate. For real.

Keely shared her incredible story with us as well as valuable lessons learned along the way. Enjoy our conversation, and best of luck with your next races, Keely!

Episode art adapted from image by Jean Baptiste.

@keelyshaw10 on Instagram and @keelyshaw14 on Twitter :)

Aug 2021

Stefan Daniel

Stefan Daniel is a Paralympic triathlete who is ready to compete at the Tokyo Paralympic Games! He earned a silver medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, and we can’t wait to see what he does in Tokyo.

Stefan was born with bilateral radial club hands. With the support and encouragement of his incredibly active family, Stefan not only found sport… but dominated.

On top of Stefan’s several World Championship & World Cup podium finishes, Stefan was also the able-bodied Canadian Junior triathlon champion in 2015!

In addition to successfully competing on the highest level stage for para triathlon, he’s also super competitive in able-bodied cross country racing, and runs for the University of Calgary cross country team.

We loved learning more about Stefan’s life and love of family and sport… we hope you do too!

@stefandaniel97 on Instagram and @sdaniel97 on Twitter :)

Aug 2021

Ryan Lachapelle

Ryan Lachapelle—Amazing Race Canada brother, avid skier, and adventurer extraordinaire! He—along with best friend Kenneth McAlpine—competed on season 5 of the Amazing Race Canada as Team GIVE’R… and promptly won the hearts of Canadians.

Devastatingly, Kenneth passed away in a hiking accident on August 26, 2019. Ryan is open about how this loss impacted him, and how he continues to live every day to the fullest and channel his GIVE’R energy.

Ryan is the events coordinator at RED Mountain Resort in Rossland, BC, but we caught up with him while he was visiting his hometown of Collingwood, Ontario. We had a blast learning more about Ryan, and of COURSE we also had to sneak in some Amazing Race chit chat!


Support the Team GIVE’R Foundation that Ryan founded in memory of Kenny here: https://www.teamgiver.ca/

Ryan’s Instagram handle: @ryangiver

Episode art created using photo by Ashley Voykin (@ashvoykin on instagram) :)

Jul 2021

Marc Mundell

Marc Mundell is an Olympic Race Walker. He’s currently living in Canada, but will be representing his home country of South Africa at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games!

This will be Marc’s third Olympic Games, and he’s currently the South African national record holder for the 50km race walking event, as well as the continental record holder (for the same event)!

Marc gives us the low down on his race walking career and his plethora of experiences along the way. He’s such an interesting, wise, and well-spoken man, and we can’t wait to cheer him on—along with Canadians Evan Dunfee & Mathieu Bilodeau—in the 50km race walk event on August 6th in Tokyo!

@marcmundell on Instagram & Twitter.

Jul 2021

Haley Smith & Andrew L’Esperance

Married duo Haley Smith and Andrew L’Esperance (aka Lespy) are professional mountain bikers. They both ride for Norco Factory Team as well as the Canadian National Team, and Haley is CURRENTLY in Tokyo ready to represent Canada at her first Olympic Games!

We caught up with Haley & Lespy last week while they were in Andorra prepping for the upcoming Games.

In this conversation, we learn about the beauty that is these incredible humans, as well their amazing partnership. Haley is a REAL Role Model for Fast & Female as well as a mental health advocate. She’s very honest about her ongoing journey with mental health.

Lespy is on the Athlete’s Council for Cycling Canada, and is one of Haley’s main supports. Together, these two travel the globe racing and training!

Keep your eyeballs on the television as Haley competes at the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 27th. Whatever the outcome, Haley, we hope you have an absolute blast!


@haleyhuntersmith & @andrewlespy on Insta

@hale_smith & @andrewlespy on Twitter.

Episode art created using photo by Andy Vathis. Thanks Andy! :)

Jul 2021

Michelle Salt

Michelle Salt is a Paralympic Snowboarder. Her right leg was amputated above the knee following a near-fatal motorcycle crash in 2011. Michelle represented Canada at the Paralympic Games in Sochi in 2014, and PyeongChang in 2018.

Prior to her accident, Michelle competed as a fitness model in the NPAA, and three years after her accident, she returned to the Fitness Stage! More recently, she has been an advocate for adaptive wakesurfing.

Michelle is raw and honest throughout this conversation. She talks about the highs and lows of participating in competitive sport, her desire to belong, and her experience with depression, suicidal ideation, and discovering the healthiest version of herself. We hope you are as inspired by her courage, honesty & resilience as we were.


@parashredder on Instagram!

Jun 2021

Adam van Koeverden

From podium to politics, Adam van Koeverden is an Olympic kayaking champion and politician. Adam attended four Olympic Games, and earned Olympic medals and World Championships GALORE throughout his athletic career. He retired from competitive sport after representing Canada one last time at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

In 2019, Adam was elected as the Member of Parliament for Milton, Ontario representing the Liberal Party. He values empathy, advocacy, listening, and humility.

Adam shares the impact that kayaking & nature has had on his life, his continued passion for sport & inclusion, his political roles, and his love & vision for Canada. Bonus points for Adam—his girlfriend, Emily, is a Speech Pathologist like me. :) We had a lot of fun with Adam. Enjoy!


Jun 2021

Lowell Taylor & Ed Veal

Tandem cycling duo Lowell Taylor & Ed Veal are here for our Father’s Day episode! You may recognize Lowell as, well, the co-host of this podcast. ;)  Ed is his tandem cycling pilot… that means he rides on the front of the bike.  As the blind athlete of the operation, Lowell is the stoker who rides on the back. They are fresh off of representing Canada at Road World Championships in Portugal, AND they’re two of the most amazing dads!

Ed started cycling later in life, and loves the thrill of racing. He has competed as an able-bodied athlete as well as a pilot for blind cyclists, and he’s got the medals and titles to prove it! Highlights include: World Hour Record Holder for his age group, National Hour Record, World Cup gold, and Pan-Am Bronze (2015) on the National Team Pursuit squad.  In 2019, he broke the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest distance cycled in a 24-hour period for a virtual event! Ed is a cycling coach and lives in Hamilton, Ontario with his partner, Amanda. He has a 17yr old son named Evan.

Lowell—a registered psychologist and the father of our beautiful boys (ages 8 & 9)—is legally blind as the result of a degenerative genetic eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. He basically has pinhole tunnel vision now, and is completely blind in low light. He also discovered sport—and specifically cycling—later in life, and believes that sport saved his life. He became involved with Cycling Canada in 2015, and has earned medals from both national and international competitions since. Highlights include earning two silver medals at the 2019 Para Pan Am Games in Peru and becoming the National Time Trial Champion in June 2019. In 2016, Lowell was the first blind contestant to be cast in the history of the Amazing Race Franchise. He competed with ME on season 4 of Amazing Race Canada. No spoilers here… you can go watch for yourself! haha

Lowell & Ed started cycling together in late 2019. They live across the country from one another, so training camps and team projects are how they get their time in together. Most cycling endeavors were cancelled because of the pandemic, but in January 2020, they broke the national record for the kilo at track world championships, and they just raced at Road World Championships in Portugal. They complement each other beautifully, and they’re only getting started!

Lowell & Ed share their individual stories, how they each got into cycling, and how their partnership on the tandem is so magical. They also detail their experience in Portugal, the intricacies of riding a tandem, and where they’re headed next! Ed’s partner Amanda—who is a teacher, photographer, artist, killer cyclist, and overall incredible human—has become a wonderful friend, so it was only natural that she join the conversation too. Enjoy!


Ed’s coaching website: http://www.realdealracing.ca/

Ed’s Instagram/Twitter: @realdealveal

Lowell (& Julie’s) Instagram/Twitter: @JulieLowellCAN

Amanda’s photography Insta: @amandasarahcherish

Jun 2021

Payden Vair

Payden Vair is a Canadian sitting volleyball player headed for the Tokyo2020ne Paralympic Games! Payden’s right leg was amputated below the knee following a mowing accident in 2018. Before her accident, she was a starter for the Kodiaks— the Lethbridge College soccer team. Since her accident, she has joined the Canadian sitting volleyball team and even competed at the 2019 Para Pan Am Games in Peru where she helped Canada bring home the bronze! 

Payden’s accident and life as a para-athlete is fresh, and we’re along for the journey! Her tale is full of twists and turns, and she takes us through it all. Disclaimer—if you are easily queasy with talk of accidents and medical procedures, you may want to familiarize yourself with the skip button and use accordingly. We hope you can tough it out, though… Payden truly does have a remarkable story, and her strength and resilience is inspiring.

Find her on Instagram at @paydenvair :)

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