Sam Tilden

Sam Tilden with Rick Hansen
"I show that it is possible to have an amazing life. Even if I can't walk."

–Sam Tilden
Sam, from Pointe-Claire, was born with Spina Bifida. Seven years ago his journey took a dramatic turn when he met Rick Hansen at a press conference to open the Wheels In Motion event in his town.

Making the community more inclusive

Since meeting Rick, Sam has been at the forefront of activities to support people with disabilities in Pointe-Claire, helping to raise money for initiatives such as an inclusive park adapted so that children with disabilities can play alongside friends who are not in wheelchairs. He was even involved in selecting and arranging equipment for the park. Sam has been involved in many other initiatives to make his community more inclusive, from the creation of adapted docks at the local canoe/kayak club to a specialized lift at the aquatic centre.

Showing the world what is possible

Sam clearly likes helping people, but possibly his greatest impact on his community has been by simply doing, showing the world that anything is truly possible. "I know people who live with a disability and sometimes let that stop them from doing things," says Sam. "I live with my disability but I try not to let that stop me from accomplishing my goals."

Despite not being able to use his legs since birth, Sam is an active skier, swimmer, kayaker, sailor and cyclist. His biggest sporting passion is sledge hockey and he hopes one day to play for team Canada at the Paralympics. He also hopes to pursue a career in forensics.

Inspiring others

Sam says that he has been inspired by friends, family and loved ones, as well as athletes such as Rick Hansen and other Paralympians. In turn he hopes that he has inspired others."Whether I'm taking part in all the activities in my local school or playing sledge hockey or using a bi-ski on the hill, I show that it is possible to have an amazing life. Even if I can't walk," says Sam. "I hope that by doing all this I might be able to encourage someone else who is disabled to do things too."

"I have overcome the challenge of living with a disability by adapting everything to fit my needs, whether it be playing sledge hockey or using public transport," says Sam. A more recent challenge was having spinal fusion surgery last year. "It has forced me to stop playing sports and restricts my physical activity. This has been hard for me because I love being active and playing sports." Sam hopes to recover soon, and to be back to playing sledge hockey again next season.

"A lesson I have learned throughout my life has been to never give up," he says. "I believe that if you want something enough, and you try hard enough, there is nothing that can stand in your way."

We congratulate Sam his positive attitude and determination, and hope that his story inspires others to never give up on their dreams.

The Rick Hansen Difference Maker Program empowers young people to make positive change in their communities. Click here to find out more.

Read more stories of inspirational young Difference Makers here.