Who Am I?

My name is Alison Levine, I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, and am 29 years old. I am a Paralympian in the sport of boccia. Boccia is a paralympic sport of precision, concentration, and muscle control. I play in the BC4 category which is for athletes with severe disabilities affecting the whole body, other than cerebral palsy. In my case, I have a degenerative neuromuscular disorder that causes weakness and spasticity in all my muscles. I was born what appeared to be perfectly healthy and started exhibiting noticeable symptoms around the age of twelve. I have played many adapted sports in the past from wheelchair basketball, sledge hockey, and wheelchair rugby but now concentrate on boccia as it is physically the only sport suited for my level of disability. I live a very different life than most people but in my opinion, a great one. As John Milton said: "The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven..." That is how I choose to live my life. While dealing with a debilitating condition that robs me of my independence, I make the best of it. If it were not for my disability I would probably never have had the opportunity or honor to represent my country or get to spend my days playing a sport I love. Paralympic sport requires me to push through barriers to achieve my goals, allows me to be proud of who I am no matter how I look, and gives me the courage to be the best that I can be. I leave you with the words of Nelson Mandela, an amazing man who I believe embodied the Paralympic spirit by saying: "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."