Invictus Profile: Blaise Lapointe

A disabled runner races on a track.
Invictus athlete Major Blaise Lapointe

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Major Blaise Lapointe’s first thought after coming much too close to an explosion while in Afghanistan in 2009 says much about how he walks through life.

“As I was nearing the end of my first tour in Afghanistan, I lost my right foot to an antipersonnel mine. When it happened, I thought I was done for: I was right beside a large pump filled with explosives. Once I realized that all I had lost was my foot, I was overcome by a deep sense of relief, despite the pain. This feeling stayed with me through all of my operations, during my first phone call with my wife, Madeleine, and on my flight home to Canada,” recalls Blaise, a resident of Cantley, Quebec.

Blaise was determined that the loss of his foot would not alter his life – and he has managed this through the power of sport. A father of three at the time of his amputation, Blaise is now the father of seven children. He is still firmly in the midst of his chosen career, an engineer with the Canadian Armed Forces, currently working with the Joint Counter-Explosive Threat Task Force.

“When my three children came to visit me in the hospital for the second time, I started wondering what kind of father I would be to them. Would we be able to play ball together someday? Could I teach them to skate? I never paid much attention before to what amputees could do, so I started surfing the Internet and YouTube to find out more about adaptive sports. Some of the videos were encouraging, others not,” says Blaise.

As an injured military member, Blaise was offered assistance in a number of ways, including the Canadian Armed Forces’ Soldier On program, which supports serving military members and Veterans to overcome their physical or mental health illnesses or injuries through physical activity and sport. To date, Soldier On has helped more than 3200 members return to active lives.

“Soldier On invited me to a sledge-hockey camp in 2009 and I went skiing with them in early 2010. Being with a group of soldiers who were ill or injured like me and learning a new sport together was a great experience. It taught me that fun, personal success, and challenge could still be a part of my life. Soldier On helped me get active again through other activities like triathlon, kayaking, and running. I was even able to play stand-up hockey again,” Blaise says eagerly.

Eight years later, Soldier On is still a part of Blaise’ life. The program is currently supporting 90 athletes and their coaches prepare for international competition at the Invictus Games in Toronto, September 23–30. Blaise will be competing in cycling, athletics, and wheelchair basketball.

“The Invictus Games means so much to the 550 athletes from all over the world who will be competing in Toronto,” says Blaise, who is originally from Red Deer, Alberta. “They are changing the way we look at injury, it is no longer so much a bad thing as a challenge,” he adds.
Blaise has been running, cycling, skating, skiing, and paddling as he has been walking for the eight years following that fateful September day in Afghanistan.

“Thanks to my loving wife and Soldier On, I am back on my two feet: one real and one artificial! They gave me the strength to go on living and to continue my career in the Canadian Armed Forces. We now have seven beautiful children and I am extremely proud to be a husband, father, and full-time member of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers.”

For more information about Team Canada at the Invictus Games – Toronto 2017.

 

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