Donovan Tildesley is a 25-year-old Vancouver native. He has a BA in English Literature from the University of British Columbia, and works full-time as an insurance broker. He is also an accomplished swimmer, who has traveled the world extensively. In the winter, he loves nothing better than to rip down double-black diamonds on Blackcomb Mountain. He has a passion for radio, and is part-owner of two radio stations in Whistler. Many have said that Donovan has accomplished much in his 25 years. But thereís one more thing you should know about him Ö Donovan is totally blind, and has been since birth.
Donovan was born with a condition known as Leiberís Amaurosis, which left him without retinas. Despite this fact, his parents were determined to expose him to any and all activities that a sighted child would be a part of. He began skiing at age three, took both piano and drum lessons, and ran cross-country in elementary school. He began a lifelong love affair with radio at the age of five, when he phoned into CISL 650, and was put on the air by morning radio legend, Don Percy. After visiting the station later that summer, Donovan decided that one day he would work in radio.
Donovanís other passion as a child was swimming. His parents first put him in the water before he was six months old, and by age nine, he had joined his first swim team at Vancouverís Arbutus Club. Three years later, at a provincial competition in Kamloops, he first heard about the Paralympics. Intrigued, the then twelve-year-old Donovan made it his mission to one day compete in the Games. Four years later, that childhood dream became a reality! Donovan joined the national team at age sixteen, where he competed in the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, winning a bronze medal in the 200 m individual medley (IM). Donovanís first splash onto the international stage marked the beginning of an illustrious nine-year career in the pool. Coached by his father, Dr. Hugh Tildesley, career highlights included five golds and one silver medal at the 2002 IPC World Championships, participating in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, multiple gold medals at the 2007 Para PanAmerican Games, two silvers and one bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Paralympics, and a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. Donovan is also the World Record holder in both the 800 and 1500 freestyle. He also had the honour of being Canadaís flag bearer at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
If thereís one thing Donovanís friends can all agree upon, itís that he loves to talk. Over the years, Donovan has honed this skill, and enjoys nothing more than sharing his story with audiences of all ages. For Donovan, speaking in front of a crowd is as exhilarating and rewarding as racing in the pool. This three-time Paralympian has made it his mission to show the world that, despite having a disability, anything can be done if you put your mind to it.