It’s 2002, the world’s first camera phone had hit the market and Nickelback’s How You Remind Me (*shiver*) is getting major airplay on the radio. A recent university graduate named Luke Anderson has followed his dream west, and is living in the mountains of British Columbia. He’s putting his engineering degree to good use working as a homebuilder, and playing hard with other like-minded mountain biking enthusiasts.
One beautiful autumn day, Luke and his good friend Johnny were riding a tricky trail they had heard other mountain bikers rave about. They came upon a 25-foot gap jump; the stuff mountain biking legends are made of. Johnny went first and cleared it. Luke was excited to make the jump and high five Johnny on the other side. He made sure he was in the right gear, gripped his handlebars tightly, pushed down hard on the pedals, left the takeoff platform… and left his life as he knew it.
Upon impact Luke sustained a high-level spinal cord injury, and instantly found himself living in a world not well designed for someone who gets around using a wheelchair, where a single step is as large a barrier as a flight of stairs.
How it all started…
Luke became all too familiar with encountering barriers in the built environment and this became a growing source of frustration. Talking with others including good friend and co-founder Michael Hopkins, they realized this was a citywide access issue that needed to be addressed for people of all abilities. This got them thinking, and in the fall of 2011 the first ramp landed in front of a Toronto shop owner’s stepped entryway, brightly painted and emblazoned with the now iconic STOPGAP.CA stencil.
In June of 2012, my sister surprised me with the most incredible gift ever – this book! She invited me to the school that she taught at and lead me to the gymnasium where the whole school was sitting patiently waiting. It was there that Logan, Thelma, Farida, and everyone else who contributed, presented the book to me. What do you say to someone who wrote a book about you?! I was speechless. I was so happy I started crying as a group of students sung their school’s theme song. This book holds a very special place in my heart.
I’m so honoured to share my story with you. Together we can raise awareness about the barriers that prevent many people from accessing the spaces that they want to enjoy. We can help make our communities more accessible and inclusive – and we can have lots of fun doing it!
– Luke Anderson