Donna Beek is a former soldier, Silver Cross mother, professional tailor and master’s student working on her thesis. While she normally tailors the uniforms of the Canadian Armed Forces and Royal Canadian Mounted Police, here at the 2017 Invictus Games, she has taken on the special role of tailor for Invictus competitors.
During the Games, Donna will be busy altering athletic wear for competitors who may need it, including those with physical injuries. She travelled to Toronto with a car full of supplies so that she can alter uniforms for the competitors from all 17 nations, with the goal of ensuring competitors feel comfortable throughout the Games.
“They [Organizing Committee] asked me if I would be interested and I said, ‘Absolutely, it would be an honour!’” Donna explained. “I truly believe in what the Games are all about, and I support the athletes as they forge ahead, get stronger and move ahead with the ‘new normal’.”
As a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, Donna is well aware of the demands of being a soldier. She also knows sacrifice all too well — as a Silver Cross mother she represents mothers across Canada who have lost children to war. Her son, Private Cory Hayes, was killed by a roadside bomb during deployment in Afghanistan.
As the Games get underway, Donna has a message for Invictus Games competitors: “If it were not for the suffering from a catastrophic event, our eyes and hearts would not be open to witness kindness, love and appreciation of those who truly support us. It is very important we allow ourselves to experience and embrace this kindness, and to show it in return — to pass it on. To do otherwise would allow the perpetrators to continually win and dominate us. We must not just accept, but learn to fully embrace our ‘new normal’ in order to find inner strength to conquer oppression in all its forms.”
Here at the Invictus Games, Donna already sees the ways competitors gather strength from adversity to support each other. The Mount Alberta, Ontario, resident watched the arrival of Team Canada at the Invictus Village and felt the positive energy. “The place just lit up with electricity,” she said. “It was such an emotional and very invigorating and strong beginning, and I thought, ‘Boy, this is going to be good!’”