As I leave after being AlterGo’s Executive Director for 38 years and having founded the Défi sportif AlterGo, I would like to once again plead in favour of recognizing everyone’s effective right to sports activity, as I did on May 8 when I accepted SPORTQUÉBEC’s Jacques-Beauchamp achievement award.
I’m extremely proud of the event’s unexpected growth. In its first year, in 1984, the “Défi sportif des athlètes handicapés” had 720 participants. Today, the Défi sportif AlterGo is Canada’s largest annual multisport event. The 36th edition, which was held from April 26 to May 5, 2019, successfully gathered more than 8,000 athletes of every disability, coming from 26 countries to compete in a dozen sports.
Since its inception, this unique gathering showcases the abilities of people with functional limitations and aims to change mentalities about them. More than an event, Défi sportif AlterGo has become a creator of universal accessibility. With its partners’ collaboration, it constantly innovates to help young people said to be different find their place in sports.
Unfortunately, I’m disappointed to see that Quebec is still the only Canadian province to offer such a large-scale event that unites elite and up-and-coming athletes. Let’s be honest: the Défi sportif AlterGo remains a too well-kept secret. Why? Maybe because difference still evokes fear or uneasiness, and requires efforts to ensure sport isn’t an obstacle course.
In Quebec, people with disabilities have the same rights as all citizens. Yet, those persons can’t exercise a lot of their rights, for example when it comes to sport, leisure, and outdoor activities. After 36 years, the Défi sportif AlterGo still does not have official recognition from the Government of Quebec or the City of Montreal. If the organization was given a status, a support that would lift it out of precariousness, the Défi sportif AlterGo’s team and the sports community would be able to do even more and better.
Thus, as I retire, I’d like to thank AlterGo’s members, who always gave us their trust, and all the partners, volunteers, and athletes with whom I collaborated. We’ll have the opportunity to meet again at a future Défi, I’m sure! I may leave its management and the responsibilities that come with it, but I can’t leave the Défi sportif AlterGo’s family.
I confidently pass the torch to Maxime Gagnon, a unifying and innovative man who has done a lot for AlterGo and the Défi sportif AlterGo for 24 years. He has the determination to move this universal accessibility-creating organization forward and is supported by an outstanding team on the Board of Directors.
Monique Lefebvre, M.S.C.
Défi sportif AlterGo’s founder and AlterGo’s former executive director