By Jon Rumley
The road to Tokyo 2020 has been full of challenges, but the Summer Games are finally here and Walmart Canada is proudly cheering on Team Canada.
Kris Vriend is a Walmart associate who knows what it takes to overcome obstacles. In 1989, Kris was involved in a car rollover accident that left her in a coma for a month with a traumatic brain injury.
“I had to learn how to walk and talk and feed myself and dress myself,” she explained. “It was frustrating at best.”
Kris admits she was angry after her accident, but she wasn’t going to let it stop her from following her dreams.
“I wanted to travel but I didn’t have the money to travel, so I thought I would get into sports,” she explained. “Now I can’t run, so I decided to throw.”
Kris took up shot put, discus and javelin.
“It was a learning curve, but I learned it quite quickly,” she said. “When you’re doing sports, it’s always a challenge. You’ve got to get a little bit better each day.”
The hard work eventually paid off.
Kris represented Canada at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta, winning the bronze medal in discus. She also competed at the Paralympics in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008).
Kris says her greatest moment came when she won gold in shot put and silver in discus at the 2002 Paralympic World Championships in Lille, France. She also captured gold in shot put at the 2007 Parapan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“It was a really good experience,” Kris said. “It got me around other people, I was introduced to lots of different nationalities … It was a lot of fun.”
Kris predicts the 2020 Summer Games will be challenging for athletes without fans in attendance.
“It’s really hard to get up to do stuff if there’s no energy behind you,” the Paralympian said. “I suspect that there won’t be a lot of records broken because there isn’t that push behind the athletes.”
Today, Kris is a Walmart associate at the Windermere Supercentre in Edmonton, where she’s been working for 10 years. Kris says she enjoys keeping busy at the store and her favourite part is working with customers.
Store manager Daljit Singh says people love working with Kris because she’s very knowledgeable and willing to go above and beyond to help a customer with their needs.
“We feel proud that we have an Olympian working at our store,” Daljit said. “Kris is a straight-shooter. She will tell you if something is good or bad and people appreciate that feedback.”
Daljit says it feels great to be working with a team of champions, including Kris.
“She’s happy, happy, happy all the time, which makes everybody else happy, as well.”
Are you a Walmart Canada associate who has competed for Canada? We’d love to hear from you! Email email@example.com to share your story.