Rick Ball has been involved with March of Dimes for over three years, providing inspiration from his amazing story to consumers, donors and supporters at conferences and events across Ontario.
Rick lost his left leg below the knee while riding his motorcycle outside of Orillia, Ontario in 1986. Over 20 years later, in 2007, at 41 years of age he began long distance running in 2007, under the guidance of Orillia coach Roger DePlancke.
The same grit and determination that helped Rick recover from his injury propelled him through the ranks of long-distance running, competing in half and full marathons along side able-bodied runners, including the 2009 Boston Marathon.
In 2010, Rick broke the three-hour barrier for the marathon (in a time of two hours, 57 minutes and 47 seconds)…a first for single leg amputees and akin to Roger Bannister’s historic sub-four minute mile. Rick also holds the fastest time in the world for the 10 kilometres and half-marathon.
He seemed on pace to take the gold medal in the marathon in the 2012 Paralympics in London. Then he was faced with another setback when the marathon was removed from Paralympic competition – at the time due to a lack of high-level elite competitors.
Undeterred, Rick was determined to still pursue his dream of competing at the Paralympics, and so changed his discipline from long-distance running to sprinting, racing in the 200 and 400 meter categories.
A switch of this magnitude is almost unheard of, but Rick threw himself into sprint training with the same commitment as distance running. He has since competed at top-level with other elite sprinters and hopes to make Team Canada at the Paralympic Trials in July, 2012.
In order to fully dedicate himself to this goal, Rick took an unpaid leave of absence from the Toronto Transit Commission, where he has been employed since 1989.
"Although my goal of competing at the Paralympic games might be extreme to some, other people’s goals are equally as important,” says Rick.
‘March of Dimes is a wonderful organization as it helps people in many ways to overcome their challenges and lead happier and active lives," he continues.
Rick understands that becoming an elite athlete is a goal attainable to only a few, but believes that reaching any goal is as big an accomplishment. He hopes to spread this message of inspiration and hope at the talks he gives, not only for March of Dimes, but to school groups and other organizations.
Rick competes with the support of his wife, Stacey, and their two sons, Brayden and Carter, and finds inspiration in the determination of Canadian icon Terry Fox. The Ball family lives in the village of Marchmont, near Orillia.
"Although my goal of competing at the Paralympic games might be extreme to some, other peoples goals are equally as important. The March of Dimes is a wonderful organization as it helps people in many ways to overcome their challenges and lead more happy and active lives." ~ Rick Ball