Fulfilling a Brother’s Dream

Seneca College Torrance Graduation

What is your dream job?

That’s the question I asked my brother Torrance, who lives with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, in December 2012 which became the catalyst for starting our non-profit Equal Grounds and this website Enables Me, to fulfil his second dream job of becoming a sports reporter (his first being an NHL goaltender, which we both chuckled about). The reason why I asked the question is because by that time Torrance graduated from Seneca College with a diploma in Court & Tribunal Administration for two and half years, and not wanting to pursue a law degree, didn’t have much luck securing work.

Prior to that, we experimented with a variety of work with Torrance, such as in-home outbound sales and motivational speaking. Each time I reflect on that moment, I never doubted that we’ll be able to fulfil that dream together. Initially, he was resistant to writing a post per week and only wanted to commit to writing once per month, and by the end of 2013, he published 48 articles. My challenge to him was:

  • One post per week.
  • Promote Power wheelchair Hockey and other disabled sports.
  • Express himself more.
  • Improve his writing skills.
  • Stop being lazy!

I remember that knowing the Pan and ParaPan Am Games were coming to Toronto in 2015, I told Torrance that this will be where he will showcase his abilities as a sports reporter. By 2015, our site had grown to six writers and on July 28, 2015, our team received press accreditation to join the Canadian media contingent to report on the Toronto Parapan Am Games! It was an incredible experience for the entire team and I saw Torrance and our team grow as writers and individuals. From that initial challenge in 2012 to the Parapan Am Games in 2015, our site has grown to over 600 articles published today!

Torrance and David Onley
Torrance and Aurelie Rivard

What is your dream?

On Saturday, April 2, 2016, our Enables Me team was on the Ryerson University campus for a strategy session when Torrance suffered a major anxiety causing him not to be able to breathe and was admitted to St. Michael’s Hospital. I remember being with Torrance in the emergency room for 24 hours and it was in the ER that I asked him the question, what is your dream, as life is short and precious.

His answer didn’t surprise me since he has for many years expressed his love and desire to visit the Studio Ghibli Museum just outside Tokyo, Japan. His love for the animator and founder of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki, started when he was gifted a small Totoro toy by our cousin Noel when he was 7 years old on a visit to Hong Kong. Since that faithful day, he’s been a fanatic with one of the largest collection of Studio Ghibli memorabilia that I’ve ever seen in Canada, even winning a TIFF Biggest Studio Ghibli Fan contest!

Torrance in Cat Bus costume

That is why when he told me he wants to go to Tokyo, I knew we will make it happen. We initially planned to travel to Tokyo in February 2017 but due to Torrance’s health and weight, his doctor refused him to go and now we will instead go in May 2017. What makes this even more special is because Torrance will be turning 30 in May this year.

Stay tuned as we will document our planning to and adventures in Japan!

I am passionate about people and focused on developing meaningful opportunities for people with accessibility needs through social entrepreneurial initiatives in journalism, consulting, and arts. As a TED talks junkie, I would love to hear your story and ideas. Reach out and connect with me!


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