Paralympian Ross on the importance of teamwork on and off the track

August 29, 2023

In my 20s, I noticed my gait was changing and I was constantly rolling my ankles. I was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), a neurological disorder where the long nerves that run down your legs and arms start dying and the muscles in your limbs get progressively weaker. As part of managing my symptoms, I lost over 100 pounds. To celebrate this achievement, in 2012 I bought myself a road bike and joined a cycling club—decisions that changed my life.

Around this time, a friend reached out to encourage me to compete, as she had seen an American cyclist competing in the London Summer Paralympics who had similar limbs to mine. I contacted the Canadian national team and started working with a local cycling coach. In 2014, I brought home the bronze medal from the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships in Spain. I was focused on getting to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro when I broke my clavicle and some ribs and vertebrae in a car crash. This was a setback, but it didn’t stop me from competing at the 2015 Toronto Parapan Am Games.

In 2016, I found myself competing for Team Canada and won two silver medals. I also had the amazing opportunity to live in the Paralympic Village, an environment in which disability was the norm. In the midst of the pandemic, I was selected for Team Canada in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. After setbacks and a delay in the Paralympics, I finished seventh at the time trial.

Throughout this journey, I’ve appreciated the support and flexibility offered to me by PwC Canada to pursue my passion for cycling and define my own work-life balance.

This year alone, I’ve ridden over 7,000 kilometres—with a lot of that coming from my commute to and from the office. Cycling is a different sport. While one person wins, it’s a team effort that leads to the victory. Each person has a role to help us succeed on the track, and that’s no different from our field work and audit engagements at the firm. For my team to successfully evaluate and improve the effectiveness of our clients’ risk management processes, we all need to adjust and work together to use our skills in new and unexpected ways.

Our internal Disability Awareness and Wellbeing Inclusion Network, which I’m part of, is a great resource for members and aspiring allies to see what role they can play in making the firm an inclusive and accessible place in which everyone feels seen and heard. We each bring something unique to the table. We each bring something unique to the table. Just like at the Paralympic Village, it’s important that each of us is recognized for our differences and the value we bring as part of team PwC Canada.

Ross is a Director of Internal Audit for our Risk Assurance team based out of Edmonton, Alberta.

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