Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and abilities. Some of us look up to sports or movie stars and most of us would agree that our front-line medical workers are heroes; risking their lives to take care of others during the COVID pandemic. Most of us have spent our lives looking up to our parents and our family is no different, but we also think that our brother Rick Watters is an unsung hero.
Rick must work harder than most of us to get up and moving every day. You see Rick’s life changed dramatically when he broke his neck in a diving accident at the age of 16 and was left paralysed from the shoulders down. Through years of rehabilitation and surgery, Rick recovered some mobility and learned to walk again with crutches, and to write with his left hand. His disability is called tetraplegia (or partial quadriplegia) resulting from a spinal cord injury.
Following a full year recovering in hospital, Rick returned to high school and went on to study at York University where he earned a BA degree in Psychology and then jumped right into the working world with a 25 year career in business development in electronic component manufacturing, including a sales career with a large multi-national company and then going on to partner in an outsource manufacturing business for a number of years.
In his personal life Rick is a husband, a father of a beautiful daughter and grandfather to two adorable grand kids. Rick feels blessed to have a wonderful, caring family.
Rick started a long tradition of volunteering since high school and still maintains it to this day. Having found his passion for the sport of sailing, Rick has competed on the Ontario Sailing Team and is currently serving as Vice President of The Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario (DSAO), which he has supported and helped to build over the years (serving in the past as President in 2003, 2004 and 2008). The mission of DSAO aligns perfectly with Rick’s goal to help others:
To provide unique, enjoyable experiences for its participants which include opportunities for therapeutic, recreational, rehabilitative, social, and competitive activities
To build confidence and self-esteem for people with disabilities, and enhance their independence
To facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities into main-stream activities through recreation and competition
Over the past 6 years, Rick has been developing a new career path as an Accessibility Professional, with a special designation as a Rick Hanson Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) Assessor of buildings for compliance to universal accessibility standards. Rick immersed himself in this field by joining committees, attending workshops, developing accessibility initiatives, and completing his RHFAC designation at George Brown College.
Rick is on a mission to remove barriers that prevent people from fully participating in their communities and to help ensure that organizations are prepared to serve the fastest growing minority group in the world – people with disabilities. More than 1 in 7 Canadians report having a disability and this number is expected to grow to 1 in 5 as the baby boomers age. That’s 20% of the population!
Rick’s mobility has become more of a challenge over the years. As we all get older, we tend to slow down and need to take more care of our health. For people with physical disabilities, aging can be much more of a challenge. Rick’s biggest challenge is getting to all the sites he needs to visit and assess throughout Ontario. For this he needs a specially adapted vehicle that will allow him to wheel aboard and right up to the steering wheel to drive from his power wheelchair. Rick has been driving since he was a teenager when our Dad outfitted the family car with hand controls and opened up a world of new possibilities for him.
The vehicle that Rick needs will cost about $65,000.00. This is a cost that is beyond Rick’s means.
This is a similar vehicle.
Rick is clearly an inspiration and a hero to others and has worked tirelessly over these past decades to support inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities. He now needs our help to continue his mission. We all hope that our friends, family and acquaintances will join us in supporting Rick in achieving his worthwhile goals!
Thank you in advance for your consideration and your contribution.
Sincerely; Jim, Anne, James, Sharon and Keenan – The West Hill Watters family.
- Bruce Drewett
- Forest Glenn Tree Care
- Barbara White
- Anne Kenny
- Kevin Gibbs
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