Rather than letting his disabilities slow him down, Kevin Frost has chosen to blindly but bravely take great strides in his life.
And the deaf and blind Ottawa man - one of 330 competitors in the World Masters’ International Speed Skating Games taking place at Calgary’s Olympic Oval - practises what he preaches.
“I’m the first disabled person to compete in an international able-bodied event,” the 39-year-old said on Saturday.
“My philosophy has been if someone throws you a negative, throw a positive back.”
Frost’s first life-altering health issue hit when he was just 11 when he began losing his hearing.
He learned to lip read, finished school and got a job.
In 2002, his sight began to fail and he was diagnosed with the rare genetic disorder Usher’s Syndrome, also known as retinitis pigmentosa.
Today, Frost has only 15% of his hearing and with 5% vision sees the world through what he compares to “looking through two McDonald’s straws.”
Although the difficult transition from life as a workaholic to trying to navigate daily life with disabilities hit him “like a brick wall,” Frost said he chose to make the most of it.
Off-ice, he’s a motivational speaker who focuses on how to be sensitive to the deaf and blind and making the best of a situation.
“There’s no sense in looking back,” the father of three said.
“I might as well work with what I have and I guess that’s the biggest lesson ... there’s always hurdles but never give up on your dreams.”
To that end, the former hockey coach began speed-skating in 2003 and has competed with sighted skaters ever since.
“Some people ask ‘What are you doing here?’ and I tell them ‘ I’m doing the same thing you are,’ ” he said.
Olympic Oval spokeswoman Bridget Cox said Frost was pretty much just another competitor at this week’s Masters’ except officials arranged to wave an orange flag - instead of ringing a bell - to indicate the final lap.
“I think it’s great,” she said.
“He’s done a lot to be on the same level with the other athletes.”
Frost placed 27 out of 31 in his age category in the Calgary competitions and set a new personal best.
Visit www.deafblindspeedskater.com for more information on Frost’s story.