Pandemic: Conversation with Ambassador Joey Desjardins

Everyone is impacted by the pandemic and we expect our daily lives will be somewhat different in the months and years to come. Wheelchair users are no exception and must adapt to the new constraints of life with COVID-19. We’re offering you a glimpse in the new life of our ambassadors as we discuss their projects and challenges. We hope these positive perspectives will bring you a little bit of good vibes during these more challenging times. Enjoy!

Joey Desjardins is a full-time athlete and a member of the Canadian para cycling team. A lot of his time and energy is dedicated to training for the next Paralympics Games. Other than his career as a professional athlete, he’s also a proud father of two. Like so many of us, he also had to adapt his life and his plans to the new situation.

 

ADAPTING THE ROUTINE

First of all, we’d like to know how you’re doing? Is your family ok?

I’m doing good! I’m currently confined to home with my wife who’s working from home and our two daughters. Everybody is healthy and we’re following the rules and preventive guidelines.

We have to ask, what impact does the crisis have on your passion for paracycling, your competitions and your goals?

I was training in Hawaii with the Canadian para cycling team at the beginning of March when the COVID crisis really started to grow. After only 4 days, our coaches decided to send us back home to make sure all the athletes were safe with the growing concerns over the virus. Upon my return, I quickly realized that my plans for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics games were going to change drastically. All my qualifiers were cancelled including races in Italy and Belgium. We learned shortly after that the games were pushed to 2021. This was obviously a deception for me and a bit of a hard blow to be honest.

How are you dealing with the disappointment?

It was tough at first! I quickly realized that my daily routine would be changing. It forced me to slow down with training a little bit. My priority right now is my family. I spend a lot of quality time with my daughters and my wife. My handcycling goals are just postponed for a little bit but I’m still confident that I’ll qualify for the next Paralympics.

How are you keeping fit and healthy?  

My two daughters are keeping me pretty busy! We’re lucky in a way that this crisis happened when summer was just around the corner. We keep busy with outdoor activities, mostly cycling! I use a carrier to pull them around with me.

I also take this opportunity to do some work around the house and I’m also working on a special recreational vehicle project. But I know I’ll have to go back to training more intensively later this year if the situation allows it.

Can you tell us a little bit about your RV project?

I purchased an adapted bus that I’ll be converting into a recreational vehicle! With the health crisis, I can spend more of my time renovating and setting up the RV. The goal is to travel, camp as a family and get a taste of “van life”. I love camping but a lot of the work to prepare everything is usually done by my wife because of my condition. This RV is going to simplify our life so much and we’ll be ready for many adventures together. It’ll be easier to bring the bikes along too!

*Motion Composites will soon be presenting a series of blog posts where we’ll follow Joey with his project.

What are the big lessons to take from this crisis? How will this change the life of people living with disabilities?

I believe that the services offered by many companies during the crisis, such as contactless curbside pickup, should be kept post-pandemic to simplify the life of people living with disabilities. I might be a little bit shy because I would never have asked this kind of service before the crisis, even if I’m in a wheelchair and it would have been a big help. These days, I have no problem at all asking for it!

Is there a message that you would like to share with the Motion Composites community, specifically regarding the current situation?

Go outside and stay active, all while respecting the security measures in place. We can still move and live exceptional moments even if we’re quarantined.

To end this interview on a note of gratitude, what are you most thankful for during these strange times?

Obviously, my family! And my health. I’m lucky to feel well despite everything that’s been going on and I feel blessed to have so much quality time to spend with my family.

Read more on Joey Desjardins in his Motion Composites ambassador profile.

 

About Motion Composites

Motion Composites has an international reputation as a leader in the design and manufacture of ultralight manual wheelchairs.