“That bike is my success in life”: Raising funds for refugee Paralympian's new racing bike
Published Saturday, May 23, 2015 2:46PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 23, 2015 7:19PM EDT
A group of Montrealers is rallying to make a refugee's dream come true.
After being paralyzed by polio, Kadidia Nikiema beat the odds to become a Paralympic athlete.
Now living in Canada, the native of Burkina Faso can't afford to buy an adapted bike for competition.
Without her adapted bicycle, Nikiema said she feels side-lined, even a bit lost.
“That bike is my success in life,” she said. “I miss it terribly.”
Nikiema was four years old when her right leg was paralyzed by polio. Because walking to school in her native Burkina Faso was no longer an option, she was forced to stay at home all day.
At the age of 17, some nuns provided her with a hand cycle. It changed her life.
She began competing in Africa in 2009, going all the way to the London Paralympics in 2012.
“When I'm racing, I no longer have a handicap,” she said. “I’m just like everybody else.”
It's a feeling she hasn't been able to access in a year, ever since her training bike started falling apart.
To compete in the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Nikiema needs a bike that meets standards, but it costs $7900 – a price tag she can’t afford.
A non-profit organization that helps refugees integrate into society decided to step in.
“We've never done this for anybody else,” said Paul Clarke of Action Refugies Montreal.
A volunteer in the group was so impressed by Nikiema, she started an internet fundraising page to help buy her a new bike.
“When we see her eyes sparkle when it comes to competing, when it comes to being able to even practice, her talent, we figured we wanted to help her in some way,” said Clarke.
There's still a long way to go to reach that $7900 – on Saturday, the Go Fund Me campaign raised only $510 since it began on April 1.
Nikiema, however, is simply touched that others would go out of their way for her.
“Words fail me to explain what this gesture means to me,” she said.