TORONTO, Ontario – March 29, 2021 – As the world’s elite athletes prepare for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Toyota Canada is welcoming five more Canadians to their team. On their way to becoming world-class athletes, the members of Team Toyota have all conquered personal challenges and are now sharing their own inspiring “Start Your Impossible” stories to help encourage fellow Canadians.
“We’re thrilled to welcome five more Canadian athletes to Team Toyota, each of them with an inspirational story about breaking barriers, achieving athletic excellence and making a difference in their communities,” said Cyril Dimitris, Vice President, Toyota Canada. “By sharing their personal stories of triumph, we hope to encourage more Canadians to start their own ‘impossible’ journeys.”
Prior to the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, Toyota launched Start Your Impossible, a global campaign to share the inspirational personal stories of athletes from around the world. In 2019, Toyota Canada launched its own Team Toyota by supporting 10 summer athletes on their road to the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. Now, Toyota Canada will also share the Start Your Impossible stories of its newest Team Toyota athletes on their road to the Winter Games. Here’s a glimpse of the newest Team Toyota athletes and their stories:
Billy Bridges – Prince Edward Island and Ontario (Para Ice Hockey)
Born with Spina Bifida, Billy Bridges’ physicians advised his family to limit his expectations when it came to playing sports. Instead, he tried every Para sport he could. Ultimately, he earned a spot on Team Canada’s para ice hockey team and he is now one of the team’s trusted veterans. Today, Billy shares his story to encourage the next generation to play sports. His message: Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable and challenge your own boundaries.
Brian McKeever - Alberta (Para Nordic Skiing)
Brian McKeever and his father are legally blind. It was Brian’s father, however, that taught him how to ski. By age 18, Brian also started to experience vision loss. Though his world changed significantly, two things remained constant: his supportive family and his passion for skiing. In 2002, he first earned a spot on Canada’s National Para Nordic Ski Team. He is now Canada’s most decorated Winter Paralympian and is working toward competing in the next Paralympic Winter Games. Brian shares his inspirational story to encourage children like him to pursue their dreams - and to help Canadian parents normalize their child’s disability.
Brigette Lacquette – Manitoba (Ice Hockey)
Growing up in a small Métis community in Manitoba, playing hockey competitively came with a heavy financial and emotional price tag for Brigette Lacquette. She faced regular racism and significant funding challenges. But her family and reserve (Cote First Nation in Saskatchewan), rallied behind her and she became the first First Nations woman to represent Canada in ice hockey at the Olympic Winter Games. Today, Brigette strives to be a role model for girls and Indigenous children, encouraging them to follow their dreams. Her message: “You can come from the most isolated town and community and still be a part of Team Canada.”
Cynthia Appiah - Ontario (Bobsleigh)
Growing up in a low socio-economic household, Cynthia Appiah broke through many barriers en route to becoming an elite athlete. Years later, faced with the stereotypes associated with race and winter sports, she challenged herself to try the sport of bobsleigh. Devastated by being an alternate brakewoman for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, she was on the brink of giving up on her athletic career. Instead, she decided to take control and become a pilot. Now, she’s again working toward a spot on the 2022 Canadian Olympic bobsleigh team and spends time sharing her story with aspiring young athletes with similar socio-economic backgrounds, encouraging them to pursue their own dreams.
Mark McMorris – Saskatchewan (Snowboard)
A decade after winning his first medal in an ever-progressing sport, Mark McMorris is a leader in the snowboarding world. His comeback history and resiliency have shown that there are no limits to what he is willing to do to achieve his goals. Mark strives to inspire others, become a leader and build his legacy. In 2012, he founded the McMorris Foundation, which helps Canadian youth in need find their passion through sport.
These five athletes are now joining the following athletes as part of Team Toyota:
- Melissa Bishop (Athletics)
- Ellie Black (Artistic Gymnastics)
- Cody Caldwell (Wheelchair Rugby)
- Stefan Daniel (Para Triathlon)
- Nik Goncin (Wheelchair Basketball)
- BenoÎt Huot (Para Swimming)
- Tory Nyhaug (Cycling - BMX)
- Cindy Ouellet (Wheelchair Basketball)
- Aurélie Rivard (Para Swimming)
- Erica Wiebe (Wrestling)
About Toyota’s Paralympic and Olympic Partnerships
In 2015, Toyota became the official worldwide mobility partner of the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee. Toyota believes that mobility goes far beyond cars. Their vision is to reduce barriers and build a more inclusive society, and this philosophy is the basis for the company’s transformation from a car company to a mobility company; when you are free to move, anything is possible. Toyota Canada also became the official mobility partner of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees in 2015, and the company’s commitment to sport and mobility extends to National Sports Organizations, including Canada Snowboard, Canada Soccer, Freestyle Canada, Wheelchair Basketball Canada and Canada Basketball. 15 Canadian athletes also represent Team Toyota.
For more information about Team Toyota or Toyota Canada’s Paralympic and Olympic partnerships, contact:
Corporate Communications Consultant
Toyota Canada Inc.