BEAVER BANK: Scott-Robert Denyes is figure skating with a purpose as the Canada Games approach this month.

You see, Denyes grandmother recently passed away from Breast Cancer and he couldn’t be at her funeral.

“She bought my first pair of skates and always was the one to drive me to the arena when I first started skating,” Denyes told The Laker on Jan. 22. “When we moved from Ontario to Halifax, she always asked how I was doing with skating and it was something we could always talk about.

“When I found out that she passed away, I was ready to quit but I know that she would want me to continue. I started to skate with determination and wanted her to be proud. Within weeks, I was able to reach my goals one by one.”

The 13-year-old from Beaver Bank, who suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism, has been figure skating since he was five; however he was never able to reach levels others were. That would have deterred him if not for his grandmother cheering him on.

She believed in me because my dad was a figure skater when he was young,” said the Grade 8 student at Harold T. Barrett Junior High in Beaver Bank.

Denyes said he had difficulty enjoying his skating as kids at his former school in Bedford teased him.

“Not only was I a boy figure skater but I have special needs,” he said. “Because I have ADHD/Autism, I always had a hard time remembering and staying focused until I was referred to the Special Olympics Halifax skate team by my coach at Bedford Skating Club.

“Everyone learns differently, and it gave me a chance to enjoy skating again.”

He practices whenever he can—whether that’s at the Scotiabank Centre; Halifax Forum; Barrett’s Lake. His home club is the Bedford Skating Club, where he is coached by Stephanie and Joe Steele. He also works with Mary Ann Crowley at the club.

“She knows how to teach me when its hard to me to learn,” said Denyes. “My friends at school are now cheering me on because I represent my hometown of Beaver Bank.”

Denyes said once he received word he was eligible to compete for Team Nova Scotia, his coach nominated him to be selected to the team, which sends a boy and a girl from the Special Olympics team provided they meet all requirements.

“Knowing that I had a chance and the support of my coach and family made me realize that this was possible,” he said with excitement. “For the first time ever, I believed in myself like my grandmother did when I first started skating at age 5.

“Having this opportunity is great and having my friends, family and community to support me makes it a lot easier.”

As he prepares for Red Deer, Denyes knows who has been watching over him.

“By having the pink ribbon on my chest is a way for her to be there with me,” he said. “I feel we did this together.”