Natalie Wilkie competes in the women’s 15 km cross-country race during the 2018 Paralympic Games in PyeongChang. (Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

Natalie Wilkie competes in the women’s 15 km cross-country race during the 2018 Paralympic Games in PyeongChang. (Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

Paralympic champion Natalie Wilkie honoured with fixture at former school

Salmon Arm’s gold-medal skier to present speech at Ranchero Elementary

Salmon Arm’s Paralympic champion Natalie Wilkie will be honoured with a permanent fixture at her former elementary school in Ranchero on Oct. 3.

Wilkie is a former Ranchero Elementary student and, after winning a surprise gold medal in her first Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, returned with one of the most inspiring stories from the 2018 Games.

As a 17-year-old participating in her first Games, and being the youngest member of Team Canada, Wilkie blew away the competition by capturing gold in the women’s 7.5 km cross-country ski race. She also won bronze in the 1.5 km sprint and silver in the 4 x 2.5km team relay.

Related: Video: Natalie Wilkie wins gold in women’s 7.5km ski race as hometown cheers her on

These medal wins sent her hometown into an excited frenzy as family, friends and supporters watched her win the gold medal on a live broadcast at the SASCU Recreation Centre. A parade was also held in Salmon Arm following her return home.

This accomplishment came less than two years after a shop class accident in which the skier lost four fingers on her left hand.

During the reveal of the ‘permanent fixture’ at Ranchero Elementary School, Wilkie will be giving a speech to current Ranchero students focused on perseverance, making adjustments and overcoming obstacles.

Wilkie will also talk about her training and provide an update on her future plans.

Petro-Canada Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence (FACE) program representatives will then present a permanent fixture recognizing Wilkie’s accomplishments and celebrated alumni status, which will remain at the school.

In 2017 Natalie was one of 55 young Canadian athletes from both summer and winter sports selected by Petro-Canada and the Canadian Paralympic Committee to receive a (FACE) Program grant.

These athletes and their coaches are awarded a $10,000 grant to help them with their journey ($5,000 directly to the athlete and $5,000 to their coach).

Related: Photos: Salmon Arm celebrates Paralympic champion Natalie Wilkie

These grants are often used for training, equipment and travel expenses and are awarded to inspirational athletes with great potential to represent Canada at Olympic and Paralympic Games. Past recipients include Olympic and Paralympic medallists Patrick Chan, Hayley Wickenheiser, Rosie MacLennan, Mark Tewksbury, Kaitlyn Lawes, Marielle Thompson Mac Marcoux and Nicholas Gill.

The event takes place at Ranchero Elementary School Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 10 a.m.


 

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Natalie Wilkie celebrates her bronze-medal finish in the 1.5km cross-country race with her mother Karin Huster at the Paralympics in Pyeongchang. (Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

Natalie Wilkie celebrates her bronze-medal finish in the 1.5km cross-country race with her mother Karin Huster at the Paralympics in Pyeongchang. (Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

The home town came out in force to cheer on Paralympic skier Natalie Wilkie at the SASCU Recreation Centre as she raced her way to the gold medal in the Women’s 7.5km Classic, Standing at the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympics March 16. Wilkie finished the race with a final time of 22:12.2 while fellow Canadian Emily Young finished in the bronze medal spot with a time of 22:13.9. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

The home town came out in force to cheer on Paralympic skier Natalie Wilkie at the SASCU Recreation Centre as she raced her way to the gold medal in the Women’s 7.5km Classic, Standing at the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympics March 16. Wilkie finished the race with a final time of 22:12.2 while fellow Canadian Emily Young finished in the bronze medal spot with a time of 22:13.9. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Natalie Wilkie competes in the women’s 15km cross country race during the 2018 Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang. (Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee)

Natalie Wilkie competes in the women’s 15km cross country race during the 2018 Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang. (Scott Grant/Canadian Paralympic Committee)