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.


How to Overcome Fear

Josh Vander Vies looks at Nicola Godden's "Icarus" - a lifesize statue of a winged human figure.

It has been about 10 months now since the 2012 Paralympics. It seems that most people ask me the same question. “When you were at London 2012, how was the Paralympic Village?  What was that like?”

I usually respond by telling them that it was awesome.  There were people from every part of the world there, wearing every colour imaginable. They had an energy that you could actually feel. You saw expressions and body language, and knew that virtually everyone there meant business. They better have. We were all about to try and be the best in the world at something.

I also tell people that it was a taste of utopia, or socialism that works.  No one is using currency in the Village, all meals are free and there was a 24-hour cafeteria.  To get to any sport venue, hop on any bus at a depot just outside the Village. Dedicated London lanes were yours. Flash your accreditation badge and you had the best seats in the house at virtually any sport. Even the vending machines are not operated by coins, but unlimited swipe cards. My Lithuanian wife Dalia and I noticed that the currency-free, pseudo-socialism of the Village works because it has an army of volunteers, National Paralympic Committees and corporate sponsors behind it.

What I don’t always tell people is that I barely noticed any of that until afterwards. When I was actually in the Village, I was too terrified to do much other than think about my game plan, train, eat correctly and sleep.  The atmosphere was tense.

Feeling fear thunder through me, and continue on to win a Paralympic medal has made me reflect on the nature of fear.  The London Paralympics was certainly not the first or last time that I would be afraid, but the energy I was expending was so focused, that I think the experience was valuable.

I wanted so badly to do well.  And, I knew that if things did not go as planned, all the hours of work, all the things I gave up to be there, everything I had invested would lead to nothing.

Have you ever felt that fear?

I had felt it before, at the 2007 World Cup when I was trying to qualify for the Beijing Paralympics.  Fear was coursing through me.  In our game of millimetres, by the end of that competition, we came one point short from finishing in the top 8. Because of ranking points, I did not make the cut for Beijing.  But, I went to China as a spectator anyways and cheered my teammates on. I watched my competitors and learned.

I think what I learned the most, was about fear.  In the 4 years after Beijing, we eventually qualified for London 2012, but I was always afraid.  I was petrified on the court, and at training sometimes, as the overwhelming challenge of the world’s top athletes loomed.

So we became good friends fear and I.  I controlled it with breathing and intentioned thinking: I know I can beat the top athletes in the world because I have the innovative strategy to do it, and I have put in the training hours.

But what if they still beat me?

I passed a huge winged statue each day outside the dining hall, which I later learned was made by London artist Nicola Godden.  At first I only saw the visual. A sad and beautiful winged figure. I still remember reading the inscription on its base for the first time, as my stomach was in knots for the pinnacle of tournaments to come:

“My audacity was my joy not my disaster,
I reached a glory higher than Olympus,
My fall was worth the flight.”

Josh Vander Vies looks at Nicola Godden's "Icarus" - a lifesize statue of a winged human figure.

I realized it was Icarus.  When given wings to escape the island of Crete in Greek mythology by his father Daedalus, Icarus was told not to fly too close to the sun.  Overwhelmed by the thrill of soaring, he of course flew too high. The sun melted the wings’ wax, and Icarus drowned in the sea.

The statue and its words gave me final permission to fail.  Even if I did not win a Paralympic medal, I would go out in a blaze of trying something hard. That in itself would be worth it.

I ended up winning bronze with my doubles partner Marco, but I did not play as great as I did because I overcame fear.  I took the sheer terror of crashing into the sea those days in London last September – on the boccia courts in front of sold out crowds, and in the dining hall – and hung out with it.

I didn’t conquer it.


Visite d’un médaillé paralympique à l’école Madeleine-Bergeron

Québec, 19 février 2013 – C’est avec beaucoup de fierté et d’enthousiasme que l’école Madeleine-Bergeron, une école spécialisée, recevra le médaillé paralympique Josh Vander Vies à prendre la parole et à jouer au boccia le vendredi, 22 février à 10 h, dans le cadre de l’édition 2013 de la Semaine scolaire paralympique présentée par le Comité paralympique canadien et Petro-Canada.

L’école Madeleine-Bergeron est ravie d’avoir été sélectionnée pour faire partie des 25 écoles à travers le pays pour qu’une présentation soit offerte gratuitement par un athlète à l’occasion de la Semaine scolaire paralympique 2013.

Vander Vies est originaire de Sarnia, en Ontario et il habite maintenant Vancouver. Il a pris part aux Jeux paralympiques de Londres 2012 où il a remporté une médaille de bronze en boccia avec son coéquipier Marco Dispaltro. Il est bilingue et fera la présentation en français.

L’école Madeleine-Bergeron est une école spécialisée qui accueille une clientele, dont l’âge varie entre 4 à 21 ans, vivant avec une déficience motrice et dont plusieurs pratiquent le boccia.

Les médias sont invités à assister à la présentation, à prendre des photos et à avoir des entrevues avec des élèves, des membres du personnel et l’athlète.

QUOI : Présentation par un athlète dans le cadre de l’édition 2013 de la Semaine scolaire paralympique canadienne

QUI : Josh Vander Vies, médaillé de bronze en boccia, Équipe paralympique canadienne de Londres 2012

OÙ : 1088, route de l’Église, Sainte-Foy, Québec

QUAND : vendredi, le 22 février, 10h – 11h



Kim McLachlan

Comité paralympique canadien

Cellulaire : 613-883-1477

Courriel :


La semaine scolaire paralympique tombe à un moment opportun, car il reste un tout petit peu plus d’un an avant que l’équipe paralympique canadienne s’envole pour prendre part aux Jeux paralympiques d’hiver de 2014 à Sotchi. Les préparatifs en vue des Jeux parapanaméricains de 2015 à Toronto sont en outre eux aussi très avancés.


Pour diffuser le message « Participez, », les meilleurs athlètes canadiens ayant un handicap effectueront des présentations inspirantes et motivantes dans plusieurs écoles, de Victoria, en Colombie-Britannique, à Halifax, en Nouvelle-Écosse, et jusqu’à Iqaluit, au Nunavut.



Pour obtenir de plus amples renseignements, veuillez consulter le site ou communiquer avec :


Claire Savard

Conseillère en communication

Direction générale, Commission scolaire des Découvreurs

418 652-2121, poste 4173


Kim McLachlan

Coordonnatrice sénior, Relations d’athlètes et protocole

Comité paralympique canadien

Tél 613-569-4333, poste 225 / Cel 613-883-1477


Martin Richard

Directeur général, Communications et marketing

Comité paralympique canadien

Tél. : 613 569-4333, poste 224 / Cellulaire : 613 725-4339