B.C. MLA to compete in Paralympic world championships
Michelle Stilwell juggling political and athletic aspirations
With the summer legislative session winding down, one of B.C.'s newly-elected MLAs is heading to France to compete in this year's Paralympic world championships.
"It's a juggle, just like anything in life," says Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell, a four-time Paralympic athlete.
"You have to set your priorities, and you have to give a little to take a little, and take a little to give a little," she added.
Although her MLA duties keep her busy enough, Stilwell makes her way into the B.C. legislature at 6 a.m. most days to train for the IPC Athletics World Championships being held in Lyon, France, this week.
Aside from being a newly-elected Liberal MLA, Stilwell is a world record holding athlete, competing and winning in three Paralympics and four world championships in both wheelchair basketball and wheelchair sprinting.
"I feel like I've found a nice groove and a nice balance to make sure I'm getting what I need in to ensure that I'm ready," Stilwell told the CBC.
Stilwell has been a paraplegic since she was 17, when a freak accident cost her the use of her legs.
"I had an incredible circle of friends and family who encouraged me in everything I was doing, and any ideas that I got in my head, nobody said it wasn't possible," said the mother of one.
Now, the veteran athlete is bringing that can-do attitude to her new career in politics, gaining the praise of Premier Christy Clark.
"She home schools her son, she's had her own company, she's training for the Paralympics, she holds 17 world records, she is our caucus chair, she's a parliamentary secretary," Clark said.
"She's just an incredible inspiration," Clark added.
With files from the CBC's Stephen Smart