• Parapan Am Pursuit – Barry’s Story

  • Nathan Bragg  |  April 3, 2024

Chasing a dream takes courage, belief, and determination, all attributes BC Wheelchair Tennis athlete Barry Henderson possesses in spades.

The 56-year-old teacher from Mission accomplished a dream last year by representing Team Canada at the 2023 Parapan Am Games in Chile, a dream made possible through four years of hard work and support from BCWSA.

Barry’s wheelchair tennis career started later than most. An avid tennis player in his youth and early twenties, he thought his time in tennis was done after losing his leg in a workplace accident in 1991.

“I tried playing some tennis on my prosthetic a year after my accident, but I couldn’t run or push off my leg and got quite frustrated and quit.”

A Have-A-Go Day in 2015 changed the trajectory of Barry’s life as he discovered wheelchair tennis and reignited his love for the sport that he thought he had lost.

“From the first time playing wheelchair tennis, I was hooked. Every time I used to think about tennis, there was a bit of grief for After a quick rise though, there was an unfortunate fall as a few ranking places made the difference between Barry qualifying for the 2019 Parapan Am Games and staying at home.what I had lost, but once I got in the chair, it made a world of difference, and I loved it.”

Barry worked on his skills and continued to develop his interest and desire to compete in the sport, joining the BC team and competing at National Championships and international tournaments on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, en route to becoming one of the top players in Canada.

After a quick rise, there was an unfortunate fall as a few ranking places made the difference between Barry qualifying for the 2019 Parapan Am Games and staying at home.

“I tell my students all the time that we learn the most from when we fail. And so I think really what kicked my training up another notch was when I just missed qualifying for the Pan Am Games in 2019.”

Barry used the disappointment of missing out as fuel, setting a goal to dedicate the next four years to qualifying for the 2023 games. He began training 4-6 times a week, transforming his body and sharpening his skills. The pursuit of this goal would help Barry find something new inside of himself.

This past November, the hard work and dedication came to fruition as Barry achieved his goal of representing Canada at the Parapan Am Games in Santiago, Chile, competing on center court and showing everyone the power of believing in a dream and pursuing a goal.

“I was on cloud nine. It was unbelievable. You set these goals in life, and sometimes it can be anticlimactic when you achieve, and, ‘Oh, that’s it, like this is what I’ve been working for.’ But it was greater than I ever could have imagined. Just that feeling of entering the stadium and seeing the support of 30,000 plus people cheering us on and being celebrated for the athletes that we are.”

Barry represents a big part of what BC Wheelchair Sports is all about, helping people discover what they didn’t know was possible and helping equip them with the tools and resources to pursue goals once they find them. Whether it’s a small goal like getting in better shape or a big one like Barry’s of representing Team Canada, it wouldn’t be possible without the support of donors like you.

You can help support athletes like Barry pursue goals, find passions and become leaders by supporting BC Wheelchair Sports. Everything makes a difference and you can make an impact!