Living with a physical disability did not limit the late Hugh Michael MacDonald from achieving great sporting accomplishments. Those who may remember him from the community refer to him as Hughie, however when he moved to Kingston in the early 70’s he preferred using the name Michael. His sport results list him by his preferred name.
Michael was born in Hawkesbury in 1951 and was adopted as a toddler by the late Rita (now Sayant) and Donald MacDonald from the 7th Concession Glen Nevis. He was one of three MacDonald children. Michael’s brother, Garfield resides in Kingston and his sister Maureen moved from Alexandria a few years ago and now lives in Brampton with family. Michael attended St Margaret’s Separate School in Glen Nevis, and schoolmates remember him being active playing baseball, hockey on the outdoor school rink and as the boy who would defend the little kids on the rough and tumble school yard. At an early age, Michael developed severe seizures and required frequent medical attention. Sadly, his father Donald died when Michael was quite young. His brother Garfield credits the patience and love of his mother and his sister Maureen for supporting Michael’s challenging needs during his childhood. Later in life he was formally diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. As a young teen-ager, Michael moved to a residential facility in Brockville to learn more life skills. From here, he moved to Kingston in the early 70s and became a resident of the Tercentennial Lodge on King Street, an assisted living center. It was here where he had the opportunity to rekindle his interest and desire to become active in sports.
For more than a decade, Michael trained to compete in the Eastern Ontario Games for the Disabled. These annual games were hosted by different communities throughout Eastern Ontario in locations such as Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Pembroke, Belleville and Arnprior. Records of his many successful athletic performances begin in 1978 and are listed below:
1978 – first in weightlifting, archery and second in the 60 meters
1979 – first in weightlifting and second in the 60 and 100 meters and club throw
1980 – first in shotput and club throw, weightlifting, 60 and 100 meters
1981 – first in weightlifting, 60 and 100 meters
1982- first in weightlifting, third in shotput, 60, 100 meters
1983 – first in archery, second in 100 meters and club throw
1984 – second in club throw, javelin and 100 meters
1985 – first in Javelin, second in club throw, weightlifting and third in 100 meters
1986 – first in javelin and club throw and second in shot put
In 1986, Michael participated in the Ontario Cerebral Palsy Games in Windsor and finished second in weightlifting, 100 meters and third in shot put. In 1988, he attended the Provincial Championships for the Physically Disabled in Toronto and captured a third in the javelin event. Michael’s top finishes in these most competitive sporting events give testament to his perseverance, determination and strong athletic abilities. Combine these qualities with his involvement in community programs, and unwavering support from family and dedicated support workers, Michael thrived as a fierce competitor and decorated athlete.
Among Michael’s possessions that his sister Maureen keeps, she shared that there are several certificates of achievement from the Ontario March of Dimes Organization. Michael also played community basketball and received an award as the most improved player as a member of the High Gate Park Laser wheelchair basketball team (Kingston). When Michael was not training or playing sports, he worked in the clerical department at the Kingston Ability Center. Michael passed away at the age of 58 on February 10, 2010 and rests in St Margaret’s parish cemetery in Glen Nevis. He is one of five inductees entering the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame on August 21 at the Char-Lan Recreation Center.
- Files from the Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame and Mary Leduc