I often get asked how I got into comedy, and while it is true that it was the result of a lost bet over a souvlaki dinner, there is actually more to it. Having had a disability since birth, I was used to the fact people saw me differently. However, things came to a head beginning of 2005, with three simultaneous events – the end of a relationship, in part due to my disability; starting to use a wheelchair and moving out on my own.
My disability is the result of a condition called Multiple Congenital Musculoskeletal Abnormalities. Essentially, parts of my skeleton were not properly formed, with the most serious being missing the tibia in the right leg and having no hip sockets. Over the course of my childhood, I would have 8 surgeries to create hips and form a stump on the right side so I could wear an artificial leg.
By the late 90s, the joints that were constructed started wearing, meaning I started having to cut back on the amount of walking I did. In the Fall of 2003, I saw a commercial for the Scooter Store on TV and thought maybe a scooter would make life easier for me to get around. Realistically, I probably could have used the wheelchair starting in the late 90s, but as a male, I was stubborn/proud and did not want to accept help. 🙂 Once I started looking into the options, I realized an electric wheelchair was the way to go so I started the process to apply for an electric wheelchair through the Quebec government. I got the wheelchair in March 2014 and the van to help transport the wheelchair in December 2014. While the wheelchair made me more mobile and more able to get around, people automatically assumed I could do less. When it came time to buy furniture for my new condo, and I asked the salespeople for the interest free payments option, every single one asked how I would qualify for financing as they were shocked that I had a disability and I worked. My background is finance. We don’t do math with our feet.
Frustrated with people’s preconceived notions of what someone in a wheelchair was capable of, I decided I would start a website called Sure I Can. The title came quite easy to me. I had had enough of people presuming what I was capable of, and calling it “Can to!!! Can to!!” seemed kind of immature. Admittedly, I had no idea of what the website would become, but I felt I needed to do something. Shortly after starting the website in the Fall of 2005, I was introduced to the editor of Exceptional Family Magazine, a new magazine that had just launched for parents of children with disabilities. Sure I Can became a quarterly column for the magazine, which continued until the magazine stopped publishing in 2011. The goal of the column was to show parents that it was possible for their children to grow up and live a fulfilling life, regardless of the challenges they may face along the way.
In January 2006, when I lost that bet over a souvlaki dinner, I knew what I would focus my comedy routine on. I had just seen Chris “Crazy Legs” Fonesca at Just For Laughs and thought what a great way to raise awareness while entertaining. January 27, 2006 I went and did my first set…and fell in love with it. The rush of getting people to laugh, and being able to express myself and release some of the frustration, was incredible. Over time, I added speaking to the mix, and as I shared my story, and spoke to others, I realized two important truths:
1) Proving to others what you are capable of is an exercise in futility as there will always be those who are ready to prejudge you. Your focus should be on living your life to the fullest, on your terms, and let people judge if they so choose. This is why I have stopped using the Sure I Can website, as it is not relevant what people believe I am capable of. (
2) While my challenges may be more apparent, we all face challenges, and that is the reason for starting this blog series – to highlight people who have overcome their challenges. It is my hope that these stories will inspire others in their own life, to live their life to the fullest of their abilities.
If you know of someone, or are someone, with an interesting & inspiring story to tell, please contact us for a future Saturday Spotlight.