Athlete featured on special lottery ticket
by Wendy Spence
Some residents may have noticed a familiar face on their Instant Quest for Gold crossword puzzle scratch and win ticket. Avon resident and Lord Dorchester grad Madison Wilson-Walker is one of three Ontario athletes featured on tickets that are currently on sale. A celebration is to be held in the near future.
“It's really cool,” said the para athlete. “I never thought that my face would be on something people buy every day.”
Wilson-Walker also said it's a bit surreal and that she has a difficult time actually scratching the lottery tickets because she wants to preserve the special honour. A lot of friends have been sending her pictures of them with their tickets. Wilson-Walker herself has only won about $3 of a possible $50,000 jackpot, but she knows someone who won $25.
The local resident found out the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) was looking for athletes to feature and she sent in a picture, but “didn't think it would fly.” Wilson-Walker eventually received an email with a mock-up of a ticket featuring a photo of her. She originally sent in a different photo than the one that ended up being used, but she wasn't able to find out who the photographer was, so she submitted one that Howard Adams took during her gold-winning ambulatory 100 metre dash during last year's Western Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association (WOSSAA) meet at Western University. Both the photographer and Wilson-Walker received some money from the OLG. She said she would put some of hers towards the Desert Challenge coming up in May in Arizona. The para athlete hopes to put in a better performance there than she did last year. When she participated she was running for the first time on a new pair of blades. Wilson-Walker explained that it usually takes a couple of weeks to get used to them and get up to her regular speed.
This year, she is hoping to qualify for worlds and ultimately is shooting for the Paralympic Games in 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. Wilson-Walker came heartbreakingly close to making her Paralympic debut last year in Rio. She was originally part of the Team Canada roster, but the number of athletes to attend was trimmed down.
Wilson-Walker is a bi-lateral amputee. When she was three-years-old she contracted a rare form of meningitis and as a result both of her legs needed to be amputated below the knee. She has always been active and has taken part in a variety of sports including swimming, horseback riding, figure skating, golf and now track and field. Wilson-Walker competes in sprint events wearing carbon fibre running blades that make it possible for her to run as normally as possible.
The 19-year-old is a member of the Western track team and Canadian team and does some of her training at the FlightExec Centre in Dorchester. She's taking disability studies at Kings University College and will also take a social worker program. The Avon resident also wants to coach track and field. “That would be kind of cool too.” She lends her talents to the LDSS track team already.
OLG media relations manager Galit Solomon explained in an email that the opportunity to be featured on the Quest for Gold ticket was presented by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. The Ministry runs the Quest for Gold Ontario Athlete Assistance Program. “To participate, athletes had to be 18 years of age. They submitted their pictures and biographies. The Ministry's Quest for Gold program chose the three athletes who are featured on the ticket.” Solomon added that every year, OLG provides $10 million to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport for the Quest for Gold Ontario athlete assistance program, with a total of more than $100 million since 2006. “In addition, more than 4,000 Ontario athletes have received funding assistance through this program to help them achieve athletic excellence and compete on the national and international stages.” She said the ticket featuring Wilson-Walker should be available until early June.