Students ask council to honour Patrick Anderson with ‘home of’ signs in Fergus

CENTRE WELLINGTON – Fergus was the home of Paralympic athlete Patrick Anderson and three students at Elora Public School think there should be signs at town entrances to celebrate that fact.

Grade 7 students Lily Brown, Helena Kogen and Mya Hunt made their pitch to Centre Wellington council on Feb. 28.

The girls said Anderson spoke to the school in a virtual presentation in September and they were inspired when they learned of his achievements and surprised they hadn’t heard about him before.

“We want to change that,” they said. “More people should know about him.

“He is the greatest and most inspiring athlete to come from Centre Wellington and the best wheelchair basketball player ever to play the sport.”

Anderson was born in Edmonton and grew up in Fergus and was always a fine athlete. In 1989, at age nine, he was hit by a drunk driver and lost his legs.

Hometown proud – Elora Public School students Lily Brown, Helena Kogen and Mya Hunt asked Centre Wellington council to support their idea of installing signs celebrating Patrick Anderson, a Paralymic athlete who grew up in Fergus. (Screenshot from Feb. 28 meeting)

But he parlayed his love of sport into wheelchair basketball and with a dizzying trajectory, Anderson hurtled to national and international acclaim.

He is a two-time world champion with the Canadian Junior Men’s National Team (1997 and 2001) and won three gold medals (2000, 2004, 2012) and one silver medal (2008) at the Paralympics.

In their presentation, the girls noted that Brantford has a sign boasting it is the home of Wayne Gretzky and numerous other athletes are celebrated by their hometowns as well.

“We have the opportunity to be the first town to recognize a Paralympic athlete,” they said.

The girls suggested installing two signs – one each at the north and south entrances to Fergus on Highway 6 – that are about the same size as the population sign.

They said they have permission from Anderson to use wheelchair basketball logos, and the cost of the signs would be about $200 apiece.

“The sign is a great way to honour a great Canadian and a great human being,” they said.

Mayor Kelly Linton said because the signs would be on Highway 6, the Ministry of Transportation would have to be consulted. He said staff will look into what’s required and the matter will come before council again.

“You’ve given us a bit of work to do and we appreciate it,” Linton said.