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Jeff Adams

Paralympian & World Champion

Jeff Adams is an example that the power of focus can make a winner out of anybody. His love of competitive sport helped him turn his wheelchair into the vehicle for a journey of success. Today, Jeff is a five-time Paralympian, and six-time World Champion. Jeff has been an actor, spokesperson, and CBC reporter and commentator. He’s served as Chair of the Accessibility Committee for the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid Committee, and as the Chair for the Ontarians with a Disability Advisory Council. In 2008, Jeff retired from full-time competition to begin a transition to business, starting a design and engineering company to manufacture premium everyday wheelchairs building the revenues of the business to $1mm in under a year of sales; that company, Marvel Wheelchairs underwent an acquisition in 2009. Jeff currently works as president and CEO of Icon Wheelchairs, a start-up launched in 2010, which is currently commercializing a product line of medical devices. Jeff attributes much of his success in business to lessons learned during his competitive sport career, and draws short and direct parallels in his presentations to ways those lessons can be applied in business situations.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Presentations

Celebrating Celebrating is important. The fireworks that inspire us in sports need to happen in life too, at work and at play. How to make sure that celebrating breeds success in your business team or community. Getting Back Up There are times in our lives when we need to understand how to come back from a disappointment. Whether it’s surviving cancer, learning how to use a wheelchair, or crashing in the last lap of the paralympics, the getting up part is always much more important that the falling down part, and we rarely have to do it alone. Incredible Moments The Olympics and Paralympics reunite a world full of people with incredible moments. Athletes understand that getting ready to live those moments doesn’t happen overnight. How to get ready for your moment of excellence, whether it’s at school, work, sports, or life. One Step at a Time Setting unrealistic goals, and achieving them. Whether it’s climbing the CN Tower in a wheelchair, winning a gold medal at the Paralympics, or being the best in business, the process to ensure success is the same. Turning Coal into Diamonds Understanding how to make the most of every situation – sports techniques that work in real life

  • Jeff spoke honestly and with conviction with these future designers about the importance and business case for accessible design. He shared his first hand experiences and observations as a Torontonian, paralympian, barrier free activist, and from his many international travels.

    - Sheridan College
  • Your speech was most inspirational. You delivered it with poise, polish and class.

    - Hamilton Sports Celebrity Dinner

Summary Profile

Jeff Adams is no stranger to overcoming challenges. After surviving cancer in infancy, Jeff faced another obstacle when at just nine years old, the radiation treatment that had ultimately saved his life was found to have permanently damaged his spinal cord. Jeff found himself having to adapt to a wheelchair, and all of the obstacles that entailed. Thankfully, Jeff’s zest for life along with unwavering support from family and friends, combined to help him through this transition and ensure that Jeff could still participate in the life — and the sports — he loved so much prior to his injury. Jeff competed for Canada in the 1500m wheelchair race from 1988 until his retirement in 2008, competing hundreds of times for the Canadian National Team, as well as on the professional circuit. Jeff is a two time Commonwealth Games Champion and a six-time World Champion. Over the course of his career he won 13 Paralympic medals and broke the world record in the 1500m 3 separate times. Jeff has appeared in television commercials, acted as a global spokesperson for multinational corporations, an adviser to the Minister of Citizenship on accessibility issues, and regularly works as a journalist and commentator; he guest-hosting the CBC radio show, The Current, and will be the Colour Commentator for Athletics on Channel 4, the Host Broadcaster who will be providing the Global feed for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, England. Adams’s message is pertinent to the business reality as it is to the daily lives of his audience. Having a message and keeping it consistent; agreeing on a plan and sticking to it; recognizing the excellence that surrounds us; and listening for and making the “sounds of support and celebration” are themes that echo and resound throughout his presentation.