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Rolling For WindReach showcases Jessica Lewis talent on and off the track

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Jessica Lewis enjoys her day with Tina Nash, executive director of WindReach (Photograph by Ras Mykkal)
A big turnout at Rolling For Windreach (photograph by Ras Mykkal)
Isla Morrell and Aiva Brown, both 8 years old, get into the spirit of the day at Rolling for Windreach (photograph by Ras Mykkal)
Billy and Carol Griffith lend their support to Rolling For Windreach (Photograph by Ras Mykkal)

While the razzmatazz provided by Flora Duffy and the WTCS Bermuda took place last weekend and captured the attention of many, a very important event charity fundraiser was taking place at Clearwater Beach in St David’s.

The third annual Rolling For WindReach was held with the aim of raising all-important funds and this year was the first to be held in person after the last two were held remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Leading those in attendance was Paralympian Jessica Lewis, who is not only spending her time focused on the track but is now transitioning to leadership roles in a number of areas, including becoming a board member at WindReach, where she has been involved for a number of years.

“I think Rolling For WindReach went awesome, especially being in person,” Lewis said. “This is the third year that we’ve done it but the first time we’ve done it in person and it’s amazing to connect with all the people that hold WindReach close to their heart.

“It’s been a huge impact on the person that I am and the athlete I am. WindReach gave me a safe place to really understand that having a disability wasn’t a bad thing and to be proud of who I am and to set goals for myself and work towards achieving them.

“It speaks volumes to how amazing WindReach is that they are including people with disabilities in the conversation. I feel like a lot of time you don’t get that elsewhere. WindReach is putting the participants at the heart of everything they do, which is incredible.”

Jessica Lewis completes her lap at St David's on Saturday for Rolling For Windreach (photograph Ras Mykkal)

So while things are going well off the track, they could soon be about to go even better on the track as Lewis gears up for a big 2023 with the imminent arrival of new technology.

“I am getting my new racing chair delivered tomorrow[Tuesday], so we’re going to finally be able to see how that works because we’ve changed my seating,” Lewis said.

“The next couple of weeks will be just trialling the new seating and finding the right position so I’m really looking forward to that so we can be ready for the next two years.

“We’re looking first at 2023, which will have a world championships and the Pan-American Games. We break it down and focus on each year so we’re in a build phase right now and come January we’ll switch to more sprint-specific workouts with hopes of having my first race in February in Dubai.”

With the Olympics and Paralympics two years away, Lewis is using her new role as vice-chair of the Bermuda Olympic Association’s Athletes Commission to help forge closer alliances.

“I’m still learning a lot about the Bermuda Olympic Association side because I fall under the Bermuda Paralympic side but it’s awesome to try to bring these organisations together a little bit more,” Lewis said.

“It’s been amazing that I’ve been able to share my love and passion for Para sport with Bermuda and to be able to now bring that to a higher level and an executive board with Bermuda Olympic Association has been incredible and I look forward to bridging that gap between the two a little bit more.

Saturday marks the first women in sport conference held in Bermuda and Lewis will be sending a video message to the event as she will be in Canada setting up her new racing chair but she is well aware of the important nature of the event

“It’s incredibly important, especially for young women who may struggle to stay within a sport and having the motivation and dedication to do that, so I think when they see role models filling those positions they have somebody to look up to.

“I would have loved to have been there in person but I have to go to Canada to get my racing chair. I think things are definitely going in the right direction. We have so many powerful women advancing in sport such as Flora and Caitlin Conyers, raising the profile that women can do these things, can compete at high level and do well.

In the next few years, Lewis will be playing important roles for Bermuda both on and off the track but make no mistake how important she is to WindReach.

“She’s a gift,” said Tina Nash, executive director of WindReach. “Having her on the board means our participants have past and current users who are in positions of leadership and positions to make decisions for the organisation. That’s important as it’s not so much able-bodied people making decisions and curating programmes for people who are not able-bodied.

“It’s about having people who we serve in positions of authority, so having her on the board is a very important part of our representation. We also have members of the board who are parents of people who have disabilites but having Jessica is great as she has been through everything with us over the years. She’s also got a great international name and that helps to elevate us internationally.

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Published November 09, 2022 at 9:57 am (Updated November 09, 2022 at 9:57 am)

Rolling For WindReach showcases Jessica Lewis talent on and off the track

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