Chelsea Borrowdale is a national champion in the steeplechase and one of the most accomplished swimmers for her age group in the province.
But were it not for the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program, she may never have made it this far.
Michelle Borrowdale was a single mother of two young kids, ages four and six, and new to Langley.
The family was involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters Langley and it was through that organization they learned about the Jumpstart program.
After getting approved, the money was used to pay for soccer and baseball for Connor while Chelsea joined the Langley Olympians Swim Club.
Chelsea had plenty of success and promise in the pool.
“Sports start out cheap if you are just in the having fun category,” Michelle explained.
“Of course the better you get, the more meets you go to and once you get better, you go to meets that aren’t in your province and you start travelling. Not cheap.”
Both kids were benefactors of the Jumpstart program up until last year, after beginning at ages four and six, respectively.
Chelsea turns 16 at the end of June and Connor is 18 and set to graduate high school next month.
Both teenagers are grateful for the support of the Jumpstart program.
“Plain and simple, it just gave me an opportunity to play a sport that I loved,” said Connor, who is now a golfer and hoping to play the sport at the university level next year.
“I was and still am super grateful for the opportunity from the money we got.
“Without this money, I think it would have been a lot more difficult to enjoy the sport, having to worry (about being able to afford it).”
Chelsea — who is in Grade 10 — aims to land either a swimming or running scholarship to a U.S. university, knows that without this help, she may not be at the level she is at.
“Jumpstart has helped up tremendously. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to afford and do the stuff that I do, especially going away for big meets,” she said.
“It was money from Jumpstart that helped get us there. That is the reason I can go to big meets and that is why it makes you better.”
It may seem that swimming is an inexpensive sport, but racing suits can cost hundreds of dollars apiece, and then there are the out-of-town meets to test yourself against the best.
Chelsea said that in addition to money from Jumpstart, she also benefited from others in the community who would give her their old racing suits. It is part of the reason she joined the humanitarian club at Walnut Grove Secondary.
“I feel more connected to the community and motivated to help out and volunteer,” she said.
“The community has helped me and my family so much I wanted to give back.”
Michelle, who works as a special education assistant in the Langley School District, sings the praises of the Jumpstart program.
“It is a great way to get your kids involved in sport if you can’t afford the fees. It gives you an idea of the things they might like and it gives you those opportunities,” she said.
“I don’t think we would have done swimming if I didn’t have the help from Jumpstart.”
May 30 is national Jumpstart Day and the Langley Canadian Tire location will celebrate by hosting a barbecue.
The public is invited to drop by for hot dogs, drinks and balloon art between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Through the month of June, customers at Canadian Tire can donate $2 and will receive a red ball or puck.
Jumpstart was launched in 2005 with a vision to help kids jump over financial barriers and take a kick at playing a sport and getting active.
Last year, 700 kids in the Langley area were helped by the Jumpstart program, and since it began in 2005, 3,624 local kids have benefited from the program, and across Canada, 944,710 children have been beneficiaries of the program.
The program is for children between the ages of 4 and 18 and the money is used to assist with the costs associated with registration, equipment and/or transportation.
To apply for funding, visit www.jumpstart.canadiantire.ca.
Applications can typically be submitted from Jan. 15 to Nov. 1.