Born without legs and only partial arms, the Sarnia native has accomplished more in his 27 years than many will in a lifetime.
He’s a university graduate, painter, writer, motivational speaker, budding lawyer and Paralympic medalist.
What makes him special are not the physical differences he was born with, but his drive and determination that inspires all.
“I don’t do the things in my life specifically to inspire others,” says Josh from his Vancouver home, weeks after capturing Canada’s first ever medal in Boccia at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, England.
“I’ve always set high goals for myself. It took me nine years to realize my goal of winning a Paralympic medal. It takes a lot of faith.”
In 2009, Josh graduated from Western University inLondon with an honours double major in political science and French language and literature. He also graduated from Lambton College’s general arts and sciences program in 2005.
Josh is currently in his second year of law studies at the University of British Columbia.
He is an accomplished artist, learning to paint by pinning a paintbrush between the stub of his arm and his mouth. He’s a renowned motivational speaker and says he’d love to become Canada’s first ever Paralympian prime minister.
He is no stranger to overcoming adversity, forced to learn to dress himself, write, and get in and out of his electric wheelchair.
He credits his parents, Sandy and Gary, with pushing and inspiring him to set and achieve lofty goals.
“I’m very lucky that my parents treated me like a child without a disability,” Josh says.
“The real discrimination that people with disabilities face is that society lets us off too easy. That’s why I set such high expectations for myself.”
His former Sarnia classmates describe Josh as “inspirational” and “amazing.”
But Josh says nothing worth doing comes easy, and there have been times when he’s faced adversity and has been scared.
One of the biggest obstacles was moving out of his parents’ home, he says. Another was heading off to Lambton College.
But, he says he soon learned how welcoming an environment it was at Lambton.
“It was a great community there,” Josh recalls. “I remember my first day … one of the speakers said welcome to college and the road to becoming a lifelong learner. That really stuck with me.”
His time at Lambton provided Josh with the confidence to further his education. It was also during this time that Josh first qualified as a paralympian, at the 2004 Athens Games.
In addition to his athletic and academic achievements, Josh enjoys an active social life, which includes spending time with his girlfriend Dalia and her son Karolis.
He’s considering writing a book to tackle what he describes as “disability issues in elite sport.”
When invited to speak at schools and classrooms, Josh always has one message he tries to impart: “Find what you’re good at, set goals, follow through and don’t give up.”