Paralympian to speak today at UFV

Halldor Bjarnason overcame cerebral palsy to win gold and become a real estate lawyer. The public is welcome.

Halldor Bjarnason

Halldor Bjarnason

Lawyer and paralympian Halldor Bjarnason returns to UFV today (Wednesday) for the President’s Leadership Lecture Series.

Bjarnason, who was a 2016 UFV honorary degree recipient, will speak at 4:30 pm in the Student Union Building on the UFV Abbotsford campus. Admission is free and the public is welcome.

Bjarnason’ speech, which coincides with Pink Shirt Day activities at UFV, will be about seizing opportunities.

Bjarnason knows all about the topic. The cerebral palsy he was born with affects his movement and his speech. It crushed his dream of becoming a firefighter, a profession for which he still cares deeply.

Bjarnason was a bright child, and his mother fought to get him into regular school in an era when children with disabilities were often segregated.

He excelled and eventually became a lawyer. But even that wasn’t easy.

Law school at Queen’s University went well, but he had a hard time finding a firm to take him on full time after articling. Undaunted, he built his own practice in Vancouver, specializing in estate issues affecting families with dependents with disabilities.

Along the way Bjarnason became an elite athlete, competing with the Canadian National Disabled Cycling Team, including at the 1998 and 1992 Paralympics in Seoul and Barcelona. In Seoul, he set the 1500-metre tricycle sprint world record and won the gold medal.