Brian Mckeever Sees Success
Education and Advocacy Don’t let your vision problem define you. Stargardts sufferer Brian McKeever is one of Canada’s most accomplished Paralympians.
Having a serious visual health problem is something that most of us find impossible to comprehend. It’s easy to understand how someone who is slowly losing visual function might slip into depression, hide away from the world and dismiss any big ambitions that they previously held.
"McKeever hasn’t let his disease hold him back: he’s had a glittering career, scooping ten medals for Canada in Paralympics games, including seven gold."
Count the medals
Well, the cross-country skier Brain McKeever is doing the complete opposite of that. At the age of 19, McKeever was diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a form of macular degeneration that causes a loss of central vision: “If you stare at the sun for a long time and turn away, you get these fuzzy spots. Well for me, the fuzzy spots don’t go away,” said McKeever.
McKeever hasn’t let his disease hold him back: he’s had a glittering career, scooping ten medals for Canada in Paralympics games, including seven gold. McKeever also made history in 2010 when he was named in both the Olympic and Paralympics teams. He’s also competed at every world championships since 2005, adding nine titles to sit beside his 21 World Cup wins.
As well as having his visual issues to deal with, McKeever has also had to put up with a host of injuries that would have any athlete cursing his luck. In October 2008, he suffered a fracture to his rib, which he followed up in March 2009 by breaking his left humerus in a crash at the Canadian championships.
But the common theme throughout McKeever’s career has been his never say die attitude, and since these injuries he’s powered on to achieve even more in Canadian colours. His achievements almost verge on the unbelievable and we can only imagine the size of the medal cabinet in his home.
"McKeever is a shining example of the results that hard work, dedication and a good sprinkling of ability can bring."
During the 2012-2013 season, McKeever continued to scale the heights of winter sports. He won the IPC Cross Country Skiing World Cup title for athletes with a visual impairment and also got two more gold medals in the cross country long distance freestyle and sprint at the 2013 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships.
McKeever is a shining example of the results that hard work, dedication and a good sprinkling of ability can bring. But it’s his refusal to be defined by his visual impairment that sets him out even more. Next time you feel depressed or restricted by your visual condition, think about McKeever and what he would do. Would he sit on the sofa feeling sorry for himself? I think not.
▣ Stargardt disease is caused by the death of photoreceptor cells in the central portion of the retina (the macula)
▣ Results in a progressive loss of vision
▣ Main initial symptom is a change in central vision, which is used for watching television and reading