RHF Ambassador Shauna Paisley Cooper shares her story about parenting with a disability and how to keep going in life.
Podium proud: Passing along the torch
Podium proud: Passing along the torch
This summer marks the sixth year since I fell off my mountain bike and broke my neck, leaving me with quadriplegia. Having a disability and being a mother of twins girls has had its challenges, to say the least.

My love for biking started out at an early age. I remember my first bike – it was shiny red. I would get my mom to time me to see how fast I could ride around the block.

One time, I ran into a moving car in the back alley. That did not stop me; I got back on my bike and raced around the block to make sure I beat my time. The driver of the car was pretty freaked out!

My next bike was a great cruiser with a banana seat, and then came the red ten-speed. My dad and I would spend every weekend greasing my chain and replacing my popped tubes. I was able to ride all the way to the junior high school with no hands.

Greg and I started biking before we had kids; we had started a tradition of having a family vacation to a mountain biking resort every summer. We loved biking with our friends in the mountains. I have always felt that mountain biking has given me scenic views that I would not have never seen had I not been on a bike.

Mountain biking gave me the satisfaction of knowing that my body could propel me into some of the most beautiful places in our country. The adrenaline that you feel biking down the mountain is addictive.

After my accident, I spent a lot of time discussing with my psychologist about whether to let my girls ride bikes. I always had this internal struggle: do I let my girls ride bikes? Of course I do – all kids ride bikes.

Last weekend, Greg and I took the girls to Jasper. It felt like a passing of the torch. Kyra and Mya were able to bike trails that Greg and I used to bike together. I am so happy that Greg has two new partners in crime as the three of them shred the trails in the mountains.

And then our friends Rob and Karen Shackleton let us know about a mountain biking program for young riders out of Devon. Kyra and Mya have joined their friend Emillie; they have been in the program for a month now and are enjoying it immensely.

The program teaches young riders how to ride safely and in control at all times. I remember my psychologist telling me that it is my job as a mother to teach the girls about the risks of mountain biking and to teach them how to do it with great skill.

Last night, in Devon was Kyra and Mya's first Mountain bike race. Kyra crossed the finish line in first place and Mya finished in second place. I never felt more proud of my daughters as I did last night. The happiness and confidence that they showed standing on the podium getting their medals will forever be etched in my mind.

Life is like a bicycle – in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.
–Albert Einstein
I saw this quote last night, it made me ponder my own situation. Even though I lost my balance six years ago and I am physically paralyzed, I have found ways to keep moving. That Albert guy was pretty smart!

About the guest blogger

Shauna Paisley Cooper is a Rick Hansen Foundation Ambassador from Edmonton, Alberta. She is the proud mother of twin girls and has lived with a spinal cord injury since 2008. In addition to being a parent, she also helps new spinal cord injury patients at Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.

About the Author

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