"When I was born, the doctors told my parents that there had been a tragedy," says Josh Vander Vies, who has no arms and no legs. "They painted such a bleak story." Now at 29, Vander Vies has charted a course filled with achievements: elite athlete, abstract painter, motivational speaker and father of two. In June 2014, he will add a law degree from the University of British Columbia to the list before working towards his next goal: competing at the 2014 World Boccia Championships in Beijing.
"Sport is all about preparing and competing, preparing and competing," says Vander Vies, who won bronze in Boccia at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. "It's the same for law."
This summer, Vander Vies will focus on Boccia and begin his search for an articling position at a law firm. He also has his sights set on competing at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Long-term, however, he sees law as a means to channel his competitive spirit.
"My doubles partner, Marco [Dispaltro], told me I would miss the high level of competition if I ever retire from Boccia," he says. "I'm sure he's right, but I think law will give me that and more."