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Marking the passing of a long-time BACI supporter

A fighter and his wife and their work for inclusion
Wednesday July 6, 2011 — Kristian Partington

When Roy Cavallin passed away on June 22 at the age of 91, the B.C. sports world lost something of a lacrosse legend and a dedicated trainer for the B.C. Lions, who spent 25 years patching up and encouraging the gladiators of the CFL club.

With his passing, the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) marks a loss while remembering the legacy of his wife Isabell, who passed away in 1994, but not before being instrumental in the development of an athletic program for people who have a disability.

The Cavallins adopted a son and later learned he had a developmental disability, and the couple soon became advocates for inclusion. From 1973 until her death in 1994, for example, Isabell trained athletes with disabilities and created opportunities for them to compete in events like the Special Olympics.

Roy and Isabell were both strong supporters of BACI, though their styles were quite different, says BACI executive director Richard Faucher.

Roy was a little harder; more direct and some might say old-fashioned in his approaches.

He was a fighter, to be sure.

In lacrosse circles, old-timers might recall an epic battle of fists and fury that pitted the lightweight, 125-pound Roy against Norm Baker, a 220-pound giant. As the story goes, the fight went back and forth for a good five minutes before the combatants could be separated.

On the way to the penalty box, Roy instigated a re-match with a whack of his stick, and another five-minute round was fought.

Richard says Roy brought that same tenacity to the table when it came to issues related to developmental services.

“He fought for what he thought was right, in his own way, and though not everyone agreed with him, he’d hold his ground,” says Richard.

In his lifetime, Roy was able to see much progress in the movement towards inclusion, and as the effects of age took hold, he grew softer in his approaches; his fight somewhat dimmed by dementia.

Today people who have a disability are encouraged to chase their dreams and there are many more opportunities than existed when the Cavallins adopted their son decades ago.

This is possible because of people who fight for what they believe is right, like Roy and Isabell, says Richard, and Roy’s passing helps highlight the importance of the countless others who carry that torch today.

A memorial service is to be held July 12 from 1-2 p.m. at the Ocean View Funeral home at 4000 Imperial St. in Burnaby.

If you have questions or comments, feel free to contact Kristian at 800-294-0051, ext. 24, or e-mail kristian(at)axiomnews.ca.

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