Thursday was day seven of the 40th Défi sportif AlterGo. In the morning, a group of special guests warmed the hearts of the 1,256 young athletes gathered for the opening ceremony in the multi-sport room of the Claude-Robillard Sports Complex. Kim St‑Pierre, Mathieu Dandenault and Lysanne Richard made quite an impression.

Former goalie for the women’s national hockey team and three-time Olympic champion Kim St-Pierre is now regional director of Western Quebec for the Jumpstart/Bon Départ Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps children overcome financial barriers and promotes accessibility to sports and recreational activities. But her real reason for stepping onto the stage today was to share her passion for sports.

“Sports teach us discipline. It takes a lot of effort to succeed and to set goals and objectives. I wanted to go to the Olympics, and I was able to live my dream, thanks to sport. The medals are great, but the older you get, the more you realize that what really counts is the people you meet along the way.”

Mathieu Dandenault was in a similar situation today: The Montréal Canadiens Children’s Foundation, a non-profit organization that encourages physical activity and healthy lifestyles among youth, asked him to attend the Défi. However, it was as a former Montréal Canadiens player and three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Detroit Red Wings that he cleared his schedule and made the trip.

“As a former Canadien, I feel it’s important to give back. It’s essential for these young athletes, because it’s their big day. Personally, I’ve always found it thrilling to meet former stars, to shake their hand, and to take a photo with them. Of course, when it involves kids, it’s even more special.”

According to Dandenault, sport played a very important role in his life: It kept him on the right track. There are many distractions in a young person’s life. It is easy to veer off-course, to waste time, even to lose oneself. For Dandenault, training and tournaments provided a tight structure to his life and his choices.

For Lysanne Richard, who helped host the mini‑marathon at Jarry Park on Friday, April 21, it was much the same story. She could not resist returning to the Défi on April 27.

“The energy is incredible. We’re all here together to share this one-of-a-kind experience. I’m proud to see the motivation and the courage of the athletes, and I’m filled with admiration and gratitude for all the work done beforehand by the organizers, the guides, the teachers, and the volunteers.”

There is no doubt that sport had a positive influence on the internationally renowned diver. And what could be more positive than to hope it has a similar influence on those following in her footsteps?

“Sport allowed me to get to know myself. It made me want to push my own limits and to share that drive with others, because there’s no greater reward than the pride you feel when you reach your goals.”

In life, when it comes to pushing forward and achieving success, what could be better than having a role model to look up to?

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