Friday February 19, 2010

More Precious than Gold: Canadian Olympic Champ Calls Disabled Brother ‘My Inspiration’

By Kathleen Gilbert

TORONTO, February 18, 2010 ( – The winning performance of moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau on Sunday sent a ripple of excitement through Canada as the world watched the young Canadian become the first ever to win Olympic gold on home turf. But for the newly-dubbed “Alexandre the Great,” the real celebration was at the bottom of the course – where he embraced brother Frederic, who suffers from cerebral palsy and whom Bilodeau affectionately calls “my inspiration.”

The elder of the two, Frederic stood up from his wheelchair and cheered, grinning widely in front of cameras, as his brother crossed the finish line. His parents quickly wheeled Frederic out, shouting all the way, to meet Alexandre.

When asked later how much of the gold medal belonged to Frederic, the skier replied, “A lot!” – and began to choke up.

“It’s really getting me right now – my brother is my inspiration, growing up with handicapped people puts everything back in perspective, and he taught me so many things in life,” he said.

“He’s the happiest man … and he’s always the happiest man.”

Bilodeau said, “If I have the chance to train, I’ll take it. Even if it’s raining, I’ll take it. He doesn’t even have that chance,” he said. “He has all the right to complain. And he never complains.”

Rachel Di Fonzo, daughter of prominent pro-life Canadian activist Eunice Morgan, pointed out that the brothers’ strong bond was a welcome contrast to “another famous Canadian family with a cerebral palsy child.” Robert Latimer of Saskatchewan was convicted of murder after “euthanizing” his 12-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy in 1993.

“The Bilodeau story is a beautiful example of the power of love and hope and the important, life- giving contributions of those we call ‘handicapped,'” Di Fonzo told

Advocates for those disabled with cerebral palsy appeared to agree.

Craig Langston, president of the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia, told the Canadian Press that the brothers’ story “speaks of inclusion,” and expressed hope that their affection broadcast around the world would help raise acceptance of CP sufferers.

“When you saw that embrace at the end, it was just two brothers sharing that moment,” said Langston. “And you didn’t see the disability.”


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