CAA Photography Students Welcome Paralympian

November 23, 2016 | Stacy Knight

Photography students at Columbia Adventist Academy (CAA) in Battle Ground, Wash., joined a crowd of friends, family and news cameramen at Portland International Airport to welcome Paralympic medalist Will Groulx home to Portland, Ore. Groulx returned from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sept. 21 with two silver medals in individual and U.S. team trial events in cycling, plus a gold medal in the road race. 

The photography students and their teacher, Larry Hiday, were invited to attend by Craig Blanchette, a bronze medalist from the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul, Korea, and a good friend of Hiday’s. 

While waiting for the plane and Groulx to arrive, students had the chance to photograph the news cameramen and talk with Blanchette. The wait was long; Groulx, not knowing a crowd of fans awaited him, stopped to sign many autographs. Students found it worth the wait, as they got to meet him, talk with him and see his medals.

Meeting a gold medalist was a first for junior photography student Ruby Kang. Both she and fellow student Katherine Mei expressed, “That was really cool!” They enjoyed sharing in his victory.   

Paralyzed from the chest down after a motorcycle accident in 2001 that ended his Navy career, Groulx soon came across and joined wheelchair rugby. After three times on the U.S. Paralympic team, he took up hand cycling in 2013. Leading up to the 2016 Rio Paralympics, Groulx became the 2016 national and world road cycling champion and won the U.S. Paralympics Trials road cycling qualifier. 

CAA hopes to be able to bring Groulx to campus to share with students his story of overcoming difficulty and remaining positive through challenges and changes.