Saskatchewan

Community support helps get Regina Paralympian to Tokyo after theft of racing wheelchair

Jessica Frotten's racing wheelchair was stolen a year ago, but thanks to community support she's heading to the Paralympic Games.

Jessica Frotten's racing wheelchair was stolen a year ago, but community rallied around her

Jessica Frotten trains for the paralympics at the First Steps Wellness Center in Regina. She heads to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics this weekend. (Heidi Atter/CBC )

Jessica Frotten almost had her Paralympic dreams cut short by a theft. 

Frotten's racing wheelchair was stolen from her garage just over a year ago. She said she was heartbroken and that if the Paralympics had happened in 2020, she wouldn't have been able to make it. 

However, the games were postponed due to the pandemic. 

"My family and friends rallied and they set up a GoFundMe page, so I was able to get a new one. And the company that built my racer blew me to the front of the line," Frotten told The Morning Edition. "There's just a lot of amazing community pieces that came into play to get me back on track." 

Frotten was able to train indoors all throughout the winter and had her first competition since before the pandemic in Quebec a few weeks ago. 

"It's not how I imagined getting ready for the biggest competition of my life, but I have adapted," Frotten said. "So I'm ready."

Icy highway crash leads to wheelchair racing 

The Yukon native was in a single car crash a decade ago on an icy road on the Alaska Highway. The driver lost control and Frotten was thrown across the highway. Her back and many other bones were broken. After surgeries and rehab, she began her new life in a wheelchair. 

About a year after the crash, Frotten wanted to do more and moved to Regina for the spinal cord injury recovery centre, First Step Wellness. She has been in Saskatchewan since. Here she met Chris Pearson, who started helping her and getting her into athletics. 

"When I got into racing, I was just looking for a way to kind of maintain a normal active, healthy lifestyle after my accident," Frotten said. "I tried racing and I just fell in love with it." 

Yukoner Jessica Frotten, who now lives in Regina, competing at the Parapan Am Games in Toronto in 2015. Frotten is heading to Tokyo this weekend to compete in her first Paralympic Games. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)

Frotten said she loves finding new ways to get faster and trying out different equipment. 

"It's taken me all over the world. And I love being a part of Team Canada," Frotten said. "It's changed my life."

It's amazing to represent Canada at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic games, Frotten said, especially after seeing the momentum from the Canadian women at the Olympics

"This is the big show. And I really wish it wasn't such a strange Olympic, Paralympic year. And I wish my family and friends could be there. But I know that everyone's going to be cheering back home in Canada." 

Jessica Frotten moved to Regina from the Yukon to train and be rehabilitated at First Step Wellness. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heidi Atter

Mobile Journalist

Heidi Atter is a journalist working in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. She started with CBC Saskatchewan after a successful internship and has a passion for character-driven stories. Heidi moved to Labrador in August 2021. She has worked as a reporter, web writer, associate producer and show director, and has worked in Edmonton, at the Wainwright military base, and in Adazi, Latvia. Story ideas? Email heidi.atter@cbc.ca.

With files from The Morning Edition

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