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Lewis on roll to raise $20,000 for WindReach

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Paralympian Jessica Lewis is on a mission to raise $20,000 for a charity for the disabled with a half-marathon in her racing wheelchair.

She also appealed to the public to help her raise money for Warwick-based WindReach — which she credited with helping to kick-start her stellar athletics career — by rolling, walking, rowing, swimming or cycling any time between July 18 and 31.

Ms Lewis said: “I will be doing it on a road circuit down at Clearwater. We wanted to choose a venue that would be safe without a lot of road traffic.

“We invite people who are doing the challenge to choose their venues that are safe and convenient for them and their choice of challenge activity.”

Ms Lewis, 27, has made athletics history for Bermuda several times, including two wins at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru in 2019.

She has competed in three Parapan American Games and two Paralympic Games.

Ms Lewis said: “WindReach inspired me to go after my Paralympic dream. I am thrilled to be able to give back to such an amazing organisation.”

It broke her heart when WindReach had to stop its programmes because of the Covid-19 crisis.

Ms Lewis said: “It really upset me — I wanted to give back to this incredible organisation that has given me so much in my athletic career.

“It helped me become the person I am today. I kept saying I need to figure out something to do to raise some money so that when they do fully open up again, they are able to continue.”

Ms Lewis trains in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, and returned to Bermuda just before the pandemic hit.

She said: “My whole racing season is cancelled. The Tokyo Paralympic Games have been postponed until 2021.

“I know that Canada is putting on some smaller meets later in the year, but I am not sure if I will be getting back to take part in those. I will be seeing how things play out.”

But Ms Lewis has maintained her fitness from her bedroom while pandemic restrictions were in force.

She said: “I am on a roller which is like a treadmill. It makes my racing chair like a stationary bike. I just push and don't go anywhere.”

Tammalita Joseph, WindReach's fund development manager, said the charity was grateful to Ms Lewis and everyone else who had supported it during the crisis.

She added: “The financial support from individuals as well as the corporate donor community has been amazing and third-party virtual fundraising initiatives like Rolling for WindReach, are examples of philanthropy that can bring us together, while socially distancing.”

Tina Nash, WindReach's executive director, said: “Jessica's desire for others to experience the physical, cognitive and emotional benefits of participating in our therapeutic and educational programmes speaks volumes to the positive and long-lasting impact that she experienced as a participant.”

WindReach works to improve the lives of people living with complex special needs through a variety of therapeutic and educational programmes.

Ms Nash said: “Whether it's working with older adults living with Alzheimer's or dementia through our adult day programme, challenging people living on the autism spectrum through our life skills and occupational therapy programmes, or offering challenging experiences and connections through our therapeutic riding programme, WindReach has been working to support people of all abilities to live their best lives for over 20 years.”

Ms Lewis's fundraiser is open to island-based and international sportspeople.

Entrants can sign up on the WindReach event page at RaceDayWorld.com, by using the search “Rolling for WindReach”.

The public can offer cash support through the donate button or register for the challenge and become a participant and complete any distance and activity that suits their ability level.

Participants can also log their daily results on the website and seek support from their personal network of friends and family.

They are also asked to detail their experiences on Wind- Reach's Facebook page at @WindReachBermuda with the hashtag #RollingForWindReach.

Ms Lewis said it was important for the country to unite around a common cause — particularly when social-distancing was still in force.

She added: “Anything can be started by one person, but by coming together we can reach further and achieve so much more.”

Ms Lewis will start her 21km Rolling for WindReach at 8am tomorrow. She said: “Due to social-distancing regulations, and for my safety, WindReach and I have decided to make it a virtual event,” she said.

“Portions of my push will be live-streamed on WindReach's Facebook page so we invite the general public to watch there.”

All funds raised will be used to support WindReach's work. Donations can be made by online transfers to Windreach's HSBC account 010-857621-001.

For more information, visit windreach.bm or search for WindReach Bermuda on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. To sign up go to racedayworld.com/Race/BM/ChooseYourOwnLocation/RollingForWindReach

Track star: Jessica Lewis at the Parapan American Games (Photograph by Miriam Jeske/Lima 2019)
Paralympian Jessica Lewis training at the Bermuda National Sports Centre (Photograph supplied)

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Published July 10, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated July 17, 2020 at 9:10 am)

Lewis on roll to raise $20,000 for WindReach

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