Ken's Profile

KENNETH P THOMAS

IN PROFILE

 

 

Ken Thomas of Edmonton, Alberta  who was   born in 1952 ,has cerebral palsy—the result of not breathing for the first 20 minutes at birth.(Ken says he was not sure the air was safe to breath!) This left him  brain damage which has affected his speech and coordination, and limited his ability to walk.

 

Yet Ken lives a remarkably independent life.

 

He has his own apartment in a Housing Cooperative, and cooks his own meals with the help from the Co-op’s in-house support services staff..

 

He participates in wheelchair square dancing once a week, and regularly attends live theatre, sporting events and does lots of other fun activities..

 

During the 1980s and 1990s, Ken traveled to countries such as United States, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Denmark and Belgium to compete in international track events. He also participated in the Paralympics in Seoul, Korea in 1988, where he won a bronze medal in the 800-meter track event.

 

Ken’s style of racing is quite different from that of most of his peers. He uses a specially-designed three-wheeled racing wheelchair which he propels backwards.

 

This had never interfered with his eligibility to compete in any event—until 2005.when Ken really wanted to participate in the 50+ category of the 10 km road race at the 2005 World Masters Games which were being held here in Edmonton. . However, the organizing committee repeatedly refused to allow him to enter due to a concern that he might run into and injure other participants. Ken persisted, however, citing his “impressive ‘track record’” at previous events, where he had never injured another competitor. The organizers finally agreed to his request, as long as an able-bodied guide runner ran beside him., which Ken agreed to and ran/wheeled the race with out an incident. Ken Sister Lorna Thomas has produced  a  DVD about Ken’s fight to compete in this  race and the story about his whole life called ‘CATCHING MY BREATH”  This DVD has been shown all across Canada on television several times over the past couple of years and is in our local Edmonton Public Library.

 

Since this race Ken has competed in many local 10 Kilometre road races and also has raced in the Edmonton half Marathon 5 times (21 kilomtres in 2:34.40 in August 2016)


Ken continues to place a high priority on staying in shape. He Runs/wheels a couple of times a week around on the quiet neighborhood  roads just west of the U OF A. in the summer months and on the U of A  butterdome inside track during the winter months!  Ken also swims one Kilometre (40 Laps) in about 75 minutes once a week. And rides his adult size specially designed tricycle on nice summery days.

 

After he graduated from high school in 1975, Ken took several college courses in psychology and personal development. Then, in 1983 he took a couple of computer courses. This sparked his interest in computers as a means for improving his ability to communicate with other people, who often find it difficult to understand his speech. A few years later, he bought his own computer and began teaching himself several computer programs, including web site design.

 

 

Ken now does most of his communication by E-mail (using his nose to type with) Ken has built his own website, which is http://www.backwheeler.ca/ where he posts information and pictures about his life activities.

 

In addition to all his other activities, Ken has been engaged in a life-long crusade to promote inclusion and independence for persons with disabilities.

 

Over the past 30 sum years Ken has worked on several boards of directors as a volunteer for a number of organizations that lobby for equal rights and inclusion opportunities for persons with disabilities, including:

·          the Cerebral Palsy Association in  Alberta.

·          the Alberta Committee of Persons with Disabilities;

·          the Alberta Cerebral Palsy Sports Association;

·          The Artspace Housing Cooperative Ltd. Board of Directors

·          the City of Edmonton Disabled Adult Transportation Advisory Board.

·          the City of Edmonton Advisory Board on Services for Persons with Disabilities

 Ken encourages every one to try to keep as actively involved in anything you decide to do in life as possible

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