Raised ten miles west of Millet on a game farm, then a student at New Humble and Calmar Schools, Michelle Salt, a Vrolyk daughter, admits to being an, “adrenaline junkie.” Growing up, she would cycle far and wide, undaunted by distance and weather and at a young age, bravely drove a quad to help with farm chores. She competed in Natural Luge. When her parents operated the Devon Luge Club for five years – a fast, downhill snow sport and at the age of thirteen discovered her passion for snowboarding, learning this challenging sport at Rabbit Hill. In her mid-twenties, she had become a fitness model and placed fourth in a competition mere weeks before an event that would change her life.
These are some of the facts that Michelle shared with a captivated audience at the TedX Event of Red Deer, on Saturday November 22. Her audience held their collective breaths when she shared that at the age of 26, enjoying her successful real estate career, she decided to try motorcycling. Finding that the speed was a lot of fun, she purchased a powerful motorcycle. Fate would intervene in this exciting hobby. On June 27, 2011, Michelle was involved in a death-defying crash near Cochrane, not far from her Calgary home.
Michelle was seven days on life support, three weeks in ICU and five months in rehab helped her regain strength and mobility and then face the reality of her new ‘limitations”. Michelle was now an amputee, having lost her right leg eight inches above the knee. That didn’t stop her life pursuits and neither did it slow her down!
A stubborn, energetic and health-conscious young lady who refused to admit defeat in any way, Michelle embraced this new challenge and went back to her beloved snowboarding less than one year after her accident. Against all odds, she qualified to join Canada’s newly created Para-snowboarding Team and became the first para-snowboarder to represent Canada in the Paralympic Winter Games of Sochi in March 2014. She returned to her love of real estate, joined a Calgary Re/Max team, became a motivational speaker, and was recruited by ‘Champions in the Classroom’, an organisation that offers lively speakers to inspire youths to dream big and surmount challenges in pursuit of a bright future. In Early November, Michelle went back to the fitness stage and competed against 19 able-bodied female athletes (another goal of hers was reached). She shares that she is still “chasing powder” while training for the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Korea.
Celebrating a 30-year anniversary, ‘Pushing The Boundaries’ was the theme of this latest TedX event’s, held in Red Deer’s downtown core. TedX is a non-profit group of volunteers who seek and recruit engaging individuals, promoting the concept of “Ideas Worth Spreading”, they create enriching and memorable events. The fun and articulate emcee was Joe Whitbread, a radio and TV producer, artist and professional marketer. Before the event, a Dale Carnegie trainer was enlisted to help prepare the speakers who welcomed this friendly boost. The day’s roster also offered musical entertainers as well as food and yoga experts.
Other TedX Red Deer speakers were Tara Veer, dynamic and youthful Mayor of the City of Red Deer, Robert Saik CEO of Agri-Trend and author of “The Agriculture Manifesto”, Jason Foui, radio Host of Red Deer’s Rock 106.71 The Drive, food entrepreneur and creator of his own “Death by Foui” podcast, a rich collage of interesting interviews with artists, politicians and authors.
Cabel McElderry, a fitness coach considered to be one of Canada’s top amateur bodybuilders has used extreme fitness to conquer his childhood shyness and low self-esteem. There were several other speakers who enlightened us on fascinating topics and modern developments. TedX has a comprehensive website sharing past events and speaker profiles while You Tube will soon share podcasts of the Red Deer event’s speakers. Bravo, Michelle Salt, TedX organizers and speakers. This was a day of well-delivered, fascinating topics.