Paralympian Josh Vander Vies Raises Over $7,000 for Canadian Boccia Team



VANCOUVER, September 11, 2013 – London 2012 Paralympic bronze medalist in boccia BC4 mixed pairs and UBC Law student, Josh Vander Vies, hosted an innovative fundraising event on August 29 – the Boccia Throwdown.  So far, it has raised $7,360 in much-needed funds for his Canadian Boccia Team, while rallying the community to support them as they take on the world.

“Being an elite athlete is expensive,” said Vander Vies, “and while many of our costs are covered by our National Sport Organization (NSO), our team still needs to find more than $22,000 from our own pockets this year to compete for Canada.  Along with our own living and training expenses, that means we have to rely on our friends, families and communities to keep roofs over our heads and healthy food on our tables.  It felt great to know I had amazing people behind me when I was on the Paralympic courts in London, and I was proud to support my teammates through this fun event, building an even stronger foundation for our future”.

The money raised will also fuel competitions, training opportunities, equipment, sport science and other needs of the Canadian team as they head towards Rio 2016.  Champions in Sport, a Vancouver-based foundation for athletes and NSOs, powered the logistics of the Boccia Throwdown.  Moksha Yoga East Vancouver, Hootsuite, Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, Anthony Seamen Ltd., Charity Express, Benefic, Peer Giving Solutions and Investors Group sent teams to battle each other at Creekside Community Centre in indoor boccia action, raising funds for Canada’s best boccia players.

“Investors Group considers it an honour to support Canada’s elite athletes like Josh Vander Vies through our Investors Group Bursary program,” said Sharon Moskalyk, Vice President, Financial Services.  “When the opportunity presented itself to be a part of a community fundraiser like the Boccia Throwdown for one of our bursary recipients, we were thrilled to participate.  Challenging the other team is great fun when you have Josh as your partner and coach!”

Boccia is a precision sport, similar to lawn bowling, curling and chess, played indoors in over 50 countries and is one of the three Paralympic sports that do not have an Olympic counterpart.  It is one of the most inclusive sports that exist: an elegant game that combines strategy and skill with physical precision, not necessarily strength.

The Boccia Throwdown also enjoyed significant online donations from fans that could not attend or simply spectated.  Maria Senajova, Realtor at RE/MAX Crest Realty Westside said, ”when I saw Canada’s top boccia players in action and the precise skill it takes to be the best in the world, I felt pride knowing they live in my community and with our support they go beyond their limits and beyond our own. I’ve gained a new appreciation for our Canadian elite athletes; supporting them is such an honour.  I am already looking forward to the next Throwdown”.

Online donations will remain open at until September 19 at 1pm when Vander Vies will announce the total funds raised at a small ceremony at Suite 1250 – 1500 West Georgia Street; the media is invited and encouraged to attend.


PHOTOS – click link for high definition.  Please credit: “Photo: Champions in Sport”


Canadian athletes from the national boccia, women’s field hockey, and athletics teams face-off in indoor boccia as team “Jack Smashers” against team “Drunken Debocciery” from Benefic, Peer Giving Solutions and Charity Express.  Photo: Champions in Sport
A player from Moksha Yoga East Vancouver’s “Todd and the Hot Toddies” team has fun planning her shot as Hootsuite’s team “FunBoys” looks on.  Photo: Champions in Sport
Paralympic bronze medalist Josh Vander Vies takes time to pose mid-game with his opponents, after being challenged to a match by members of the Canadian women’s field hockey team.

8 Teams Confirmed So Far for Boccia Throwdown!

The countdown is on.  8 teams have taken on the fundraising and impending indoor boccia challenge – to help fuel the Canadian Boccia Team to international podiums.  There are only 8 days left to either throw your hat in the ring (boccia court!) by signing up a team of up to 6, or donating online to support the Boccia Throwdown! or individual teams.

You can team-up with the Canadian Boccia Team three ways:

1. Share this blog post with your social media networks.
2. Form a team of up to 6 players and party with us on August 29 from 5-7pm at 1 Athletes Way Vancouver.  Register here.
3. Donate to one of the teams below and help them chase top fundraiser glory, or to the event itself.  Keep scrolling for details.

Apparently boccia team names allow for some serious creativity.  We on the national team thought we had all of the boccia ball puns locked down and figured out!  Think again.  If you like one of these team names, or the people and businesses powering them, click and donate online – “Chimp them” – and get an online tax receipt automatically.

Each team has to raise $500 to compete.  Eternal glory is up for grabs to the winner of the indoor boccia tournament, and the top fundraiser.  Here are the competitors in order of entry.

Mission Imbocceball

Canadian Sport Institute Pacific


Foxy Boccia Dolls and Balls



Total Debocciery

Anthony-Seaman Ltd. – Sawmill Consulting Engineers





Todd and the Hot Toddies

Moksha Yoga East Vancouver


Love is a Boccia Field

Access Driver Rehab Specialists


Wham Bam Thank You Ham



Drunken Deboccery

Benevoland: Peer Giving, Charity Express, and Benefic


Can’t decide which team gets your donation?

Click this photo of members of the Canadian Boccia Team on the podium at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico – one of our best tournaments ever – to donate to the event itself. We want even more amazing medal moments like these.


Vancouver Boccia Throwdown! 2013

Being a Canadian elite athlete is expensive.  This summer I am raising funds in Vancouver for the Canadian boccia team, as it heads down the grueling road to Rio 2016.  The goal is to have a lot of fun along the way.

The poster sums it up nicely. Play indoor boccia.  Wrestle your boss. Win a ham. Have a blast. Support a great cause.

Boccia is one of the most inclusive sports that exist – any ability level can play – and it is fantastic team building and recreation.  On August 29, 2013 at 1 Athletes Way, Vancouver we are inviting teams to come and have a fun evening while supporting our national team.  There will be drinks, boccia, sumo suits, and so on, at the community centre gym in the Olympic Village.

A $500 donation is the minimum per team.   To register go to – spots are limited.

Can’t make the event?  Support our Canadian boccia team by donating whatever you can here:

Next time you see one of us on a podium, know that you helped put us there.


A Reluctant Advocate

One of Dalia’s friends recommended we meet her at an art exhibition opening this weekend.  It was of an artist her friend knows, on Granville Street, where Vancouver’s art galleries are concentrated.  We planned to go and I was looking forward to it all week.  When we arrived, we were met with stairs.  No problem, we thought – this is Vancouver; almost everything is accessible here.

Dalia went up to inquire how I could get in.  There was no other way.

I really don’t enjoy being an advocate.  It is not very pleasant to complain and bring attention to troublesome realities. It is especially bitter when irksome issues are not anyone’s direct fault.

I am not sure if Elissa Cristall Gallery, where the exhibition was held, rents or owns their gallery space. From what I saw from the sidewalk, the second level space is quite stylish. In Vancouver’s property market, I am sure it is a valuable spot.

I am not sure what the BC Building Code has to say about accessibility. Access to the Code document is not cheap – behind a pay wall like that, perhaps not everyone who needs to consult it can.

[UPDATE – If a building was constructed before accessibility provisions in the BC Building Code came into effect, it is only required to become accessible when there is a transfer in ownership, or a major renovation AND to become accessible is “practical.” These are very weak regulations.]


The gallery we wanted to go to should not take all the blame though.  Sadly, the two galleries beside it, Master Gallery Ltd. and the prolific Heffel, that proclaims itself to be “Canada’s National Fine Arts Auction House,” were not accessible either from what I could tell.

So, I did what I had to do. I waited outside, while Dalia went up and met her friend and listened to the artist speak. They came down afterwards and it was a nice chat. I didn’t get to meet the artist, or see her work in person, but saw some of the photos on the Internet and my phone, taken by Dalia.

Most disabled people and their families have to fight for their whole lives.  We call it being an effective self-advocate. My parents had to fight to allow me to go to a French immersion elementary school instead of an essentially segregated one when I was small. Then they had to fight for me to have an assistant.

As an adult, I am ready to assert what I need, and go after it. It won’t always be easy as I go forward. A good advocate always needs to ask for what they want though. If we don’t ask, how can we get?

So what should I ask for here? Should I travel around with a lawyer on retainer to write threatening demand letters to force public places to become physically accessible?  Should I launch claims in the Human Rights Tribunal? I won’t make many friends if I take that approach.

I don’t have all the answers. I know making spaces accessible costs money and can be a logistical challenge. I know that I might have bought some artwork this weekend if I could have gotten into the galleries. These galleries don’t know how many sales they are missing out on.

I don’t know what the best outcome for this type of situation is. If I do not talk about it when I am explicitly denied access to a part of my community, it will not be dealt with, and others will be excluded too. I am not sure what I want to happen in the specific case of these galleries.

I do know that I wish I did not have to write this article. Being excluded from something that I really wanted to participate in hurt.