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Airdrie resident Lovepreet Deo takes home Premier Council’s Award for disability advocacy

An Airdrie resident who has overcome physical barriers to become an accomplished athlete and advocate for those living with disabilities – namely cerebral palsy - has won a Premier Council’s Award for her public awareness and advocacy efforts.

AIRDRIE:  An Airdrie resident who has overcome physical barriers to become an accomplished athlete and advocate for those living with disabilities – namely cerebral palsy – has won a Premier Council’s Award for her public awareness efforts.  

Lovepreet Deo, 40, received the Alberta government’s Award of Excellence in Public Awareness during a virtual ceremony earlier this month. The award is presented to those who are working toward breaking down barriers and making a more inclusive community for those living with disabilities.  

Deo said she pushes herself as an athlete to improve her mental and physical health, but also to show others diagnosed with cerebral palsy they can do anything they put their mind to.  

“I’m standing for people with disabilities,” she said, adding the award is a “big honour,” but such accolades are not the motivation behind what she does.  

“I read a quote that said, ‘Do something that sets your soul on fire,’” she said. “That’s why I set goals – they set fire to my soul.”  

Dawn Sorsdahl, who has been Deo’s physical trainer at Genesis Place Recreation Centre for approximately seven years, said when they first started working together, Deo embarked on a five-kilometre bike ride, and then shortly thereafter, a 20-kilometre ride.  

“At the end, we finished the race and we both looked at the other and started bawling because it was a huge accomplishment for her,” Sorsdahl said, adding they did a few more cycling race events and then set the bar even higher.  

“We also did a half marathon, so I ran beside her – I have to train as well, she makes me work.” 

Along the way, Deo has been working to raise funds and awareness of cerebral palsy and even shared her story in a video with Accessible Media Inc. last summer, when she climbed the 167 stairs at McHugh Bluff in Calgary to celebrate her 40th birthday.  

Sorsdahl said over the years, Deo’s confidence has increased both inside and outside of the gym.  

“She always wants to try new pieces of equipment and to push herself to do more reps or lift heavier,” she said. “She’s always trying to challenge herself within the gym, but also outside of the gym doing different challenges.  

“She’s always up for the challenge.” 

Sorsdahl explained Deo’s condition can oftentimes extend recovery time after a workout or marathon, but she has never shied away from any challenge despite that.

“If you ever have delayed onset muscle soreness after a workout, that’s what cerebral palsy is like,” she said. “So [Deo] is always sore, so you add in a workout on top of it, she takes a really long time for her to recover.”  

That soreness did not stop Deo from completing a 20-kilometre marathon on her bike and the next day, supporting Sorsdahl running alongside her in a Terry Fox Run.  

“To me, that was a highlight because she didn’t have a few days to recover, she just went out and did it,” Sorsdahl said. 

The Premier's Council Award is not the Airdrie resident's first accolade; Deo has won six awards and honours from various organizations over the years, including the 2015 International Day of Persons with Disabilities Calgary Athlete of the Year Award. She has also been acknowledged by the Alberta Abilities Lodges Society, Arpan Likhari Sabha Calgary, Punjabi Likhari Sabha Calgary, the Punjabi Writer’s Association, and by Kent Hehr, former Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre. 

According to Sorsdahl, Deo doesn’t do what she does to get recognition, but simply to improve herself and to others that she can.  

“She’s an inspiration to so many people in the gym that people are like, ‘Well, if she can do it, I can do it,’” she said. “They see her doing stuff, and they’re like, ‘Well, I have no excuse.’

“She’s in the gym every day, so she does inspire a lot of people at Genesis Place – it's amazing.” 

Carmen Cundy,  

Follow me on Twitter @carmenrcundy 

Carmen Cundy

About the Author: Carmen Cundy

Carmen Cundy joined the Airdrie Today team in March 2021.
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