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.
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).
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.