In News & Blog, SCI BC Event, SCI BC News, SCI Research

This year, Ben and Bonnie of ICORD join our racing ranks to take on the virtual Scotiabank Charity Challenge! And we couldn’t be more excited to welcome them to our team. We are so excited, in fact, that we caught up with them to learn more about why they’re racing with us.

an able-bodied man and a woman in a wheelchair stand together on a boardwalk with a golden labrador retriever. They are training for the Scotiabank Charity Challenge run
Ben and Bonnie training with Bonnie's dog, Gucci.
ben_mortenson

BEN MORTENSON

What is your role with ICORD? 

I am a researcher on the third floor of ICORD and an occupational therapist by training. Most of my research is focused on assistive technologies like wheelchairs. I want to know how beneficial they are for users, how we can train people to use them better and how we can make better assistive devices.

How long have you been racing with SCC? 

This will be my sixth race. I have been doing this as a fundraiser for SCI BC since 2016!

Why are you racing this year? 

I often ask people with SCI BC to help me with my research (as collaborators and participants). Fundraising is my chance to pay it forward, and acknowledge how much the SCI community has supported me and my work.

What are your fundraising goals this year? 

I am hoping to raise $1,200

How are you training for race day? 

I am more of a bicyclist to be honest, but I have been running two or three times per week to train for this event. Right now my longest run is about 14 km so I am in striking range!  

Will you be racing with anyone this year? 

I am going to race all the distances this year. Bonnie, Gucci (her assistance dog) and I will do the 5Km run in Richmond. I will do the other distances on my own (as part of my early morning exercise).

How has SCI BC been a part of your life? 

That is hard to figure out!  Officially, I became an assistant professor in 2013 at ICORD and GF Strong so I began working with them formally then, but I had interacted with SCI BC while doing my post-doctoral research as well.

Can you speak to the relationship between ICORD and SCI BC?

I’m involved in lots of projects with SCI BC. We are collaborating with Jocelyn Maffin on a study she proposed to look at the experiences of people with incomplete SCI. I’m also working with Chris McBride on a variety of projects (developing  guiding principles of integrated knowledge translation, evaluating COVID-related resources for people with SCI, and trying to understand how we can improve the health (mental and physical well-being) of people with SCI.

Anything else you want to mention? 

I miss the in-person camaraderie of race day, but the virtual meet-up last year was a blast!

bonnie

BONNIE SAWATZKY

What is your role with ICORD? 

I am a principle investigator at ICORD and have been here from the beginning, helping to design our universally designed building that we all enjoy. I am an associate professor in orthopaedics as a clinical biomechanist. My work focuses on research related to improving the mobility of people with SCI, walking or wheeling.  

How long have you been racing with SCC? 

This is my first year!

Why are you racing this year? 

I’ve been doing lots of walks/runs with my service dog, Gucci, and even more during the pandemic to keep my mental health as strong as can be as we work from home. I thought it would be fun to practice our endurance together so we have done many runs along the Railway greenway in Richmond. I also believe in what SCI BC does for those with spinal cord injuries or related physical disabilities (SCI/D). I want to support and raise awareness of what we can do as people living with SCI/D!

What are your fundraising goals this year? 

$1,000

How are you training for race day? 

Wheeling (with smart wheel help) and Gucci running or walking each day for 3- 7 kms at a time.

Will you be racing with anyone this year? 

My colleague Ben Mortenson

How has SCI BC been a part of your life? 

I was born with a spinal cord disease and then also experienced lumbar cord injury in a car accident when I was 29 years old. The latter resulted in my requiring a wheelchair for my daily mobility.

Can you speak to the relationship between ICORD and SCI BC?

We have worked closely together since we became colleagues at ICORD. I like to include those with SCI/D to speak into the planning of our research initiatives. People with SCI/D inform our research plans, help interpret our work, and disseminate it to those where it should make a difference. Without including people who live daily with SCI our work can be in vain. 

Recommended Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search

X