Story By Alfie Lau – The Burnaby Now
Norman Wong won’t forget his moment of glory in Maple Ridge on March 10.
The North Burnaby man who works as a program supervisor for the Shaw Multicultural Channel won the right to carry the Paralympic torch by writing a 250-word essay on what the Paralympics mean to him.Wong’s inspirational story revolved around his five-year-old son Colvin.
“When my son was born, he was profoundly deaf in both of his ears,” said Wong. “Since his early years, he was your typical boy just having fun, and one wouldn’t even suspect that something was not right.
“We stared to have concerns when he didn’t have verbal language when he reached the age of two. We brought this up at a doctor’s visit, and then our doctor shared the same concerns and proceeded to move things along for hearing testing. After an audiology test, it was confirmed that he was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss.”
Norman and his wife Patty were shocked and saddened by the news, but they immediately started looking into what Colvin’s options were.Within months, Colvin was under the knife, and he had a cochlear implant, or digital processor, put inside his left ear. In addition, a hearing aid was put on Colvin’s right ear.
Norman put in his application to run with the Paralympic torch in late-December and received a call in mid-January telling him he was successful.
“I was ecstatic when they called,” said Wong. “I just thought this was a great fit for me, and I’m so honoured to be able to run with the Paralympic torch.”
Norman isn’t sure that Colvin and his younger brother Kade, 3, realize the significance of dad running with the torch, but they will once they see the $400 investment Norman is putting into the relay.
“Yes, I’m buying my torch, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it, but when the kids ask, I can tell them why it’s in the house,” said Norman.
Norman has tickets for the opening ceremonies of the Paralympics, and he hopes to attend some sledge hockey games as well. Because Norman works downtown, he had a close-up view of the Olympic cauldron.
“It was amazing to see how the city came alive during the Olympics,” said Norman. “I had the opportunity to see some women’s hockey and some speedskating, and there was just a great energy there.”
Wong hopes that energy translates to the Paralympics that run until March 21.
“I think people will really embrace the Paralympics because there are so many stories about the athletes’ courage and inspiration.
“I think that all the athletes are amazing people as human beings. It’s this type of positive human spirit in overcoming physical adversity that I want to share this with my son someday.
“Just because one may be different in some way shape or form, greatness is still possible if one puts in the passion and hard work. This is evident with all the Paralympians of 2010.”
Reprinted with permission from Burnaby Now, March 13, 2010
Photo courtesy of Troy Landreville/The Times