Monday, April 15, 2024

Tearful goodbye for first Paralympian


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HUNDREDS OF BARBADIANS, many in tears, yesterday said farewell to the man listed as the island’s first Paralympian wheelchair racer, Wesley Wilfred Worrell.
Several people with physical challenges, including President of the Senate Kerryann Ifill, and special envoy for persons with disabilities, Roslyn Hurley, attended the hour-long funeral in the chapel of the Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens Cemetery & Crematorium in Christ Church.
Many mourners were in wheelchairs. Quite a few visually-impaired people were there too.
Highlights of the service included brief, and at times tearful, tributes by Paralympic Association of Barbados athletes in their blue and gold uniforms.
Worrell, former president of the association, died at BayView Hospital on April 2 after a long illness. He was 53 years old.
At the funeral, he was eulogised as “a dedicated athlete” whose zest for life inspired many people with disabilities.
Friend Sade Leon Folkes called him “a gentle spirit”, a man with a love for drumming and someone who hated to waste time.
Worrell’s wife Maureen, in a tribute read by Michelle Belgrave, said her husband was keen on turning up for “every race, walk, ride and marathon”. He “never saw the wheelchair as a stumbling block”, she pointed out.
Delivering the sermon, Reverend Carl Baker said Worrell’s life was an example of adversity bringing out the best in people.
Life had shown repeatedly that “when you squeeze certain people” gems emerge, he told the mourners.
His advice to them was: “When life gives you limes, try and make some lemonade.”
Worrell was shot and paralysed in April 1994 during a robbery attempt. Afterwards, he put his heart and soul into being an advocate for people with disabilities.
“Being the president of the Paralympic Association of Barbados was his life . . . ,” his wife said recently.
“He was the first wheelchair athlete in Barbados and he played a major role in getting a goalball [a sport for blind and visually impaired people] team together here in Barbados. Coming out of the 2012 London Olympics, that was one of his main initiatives.” (TY)


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