Written by Bob Steadward
Joanne MacDonald was born in St. John’s Newfoundland in 1952, but grew up in the small fishing community of St. Mary’s Bay. After graduating from high school, Joanne moved back to St. John’s to pursue post-secondary education. Her working career, of just over 40 years, consisted of working with community organizations, the private sector, and the remaining 26 years with the federal government.
Joanne became involved in wheelchair sports in 1972, with her first national competition taking place in Vancouver, BC in 1973. She would go on to become a fierce competitor, taking home her share of gold, silver, and bronze medals throughout her 12 years of competition.
Joanne is a three time Paralympian, having competed at the 1976, 1980, and 1984 Paralympics. In addition, she competed in three Pan American Games in Mexico, Brazil, and Canada. She also competed at a number of International Stoke Mandeville Games, the International Super Challenge, and numerous international wheelchair basketball competitions. Joanne was a member of the women’s wheelchair basketball team from 1975 to 1984.
Joanne worked hard to develop wheelchair sports in her home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. She was a tireless fundraiser, served on the board of directors, and was a guest speaker at numerous events. Joanne’s love of competition, her community involvement, and her dedication to wheelchair sport have all left a lasting legacy in the world of sport through Newfoundland and Labrador.
Joanne was inducted into the Newfoundland & Labrador Sports Hall of Fame 1993. She was inducted into the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2004; made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008 and received and Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree 2016.
Joanne MacDonald at the 1976 Summer Paralympics in Toronto