With Theoren Fleury's help, sex abuse victim hopes to stick-handle ball across country
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Paul O’Byrne survived the lowest of lows, so he has no problem dreaming big.
“I am going to stickhandle a ball across Canada,” the 27-year-old proclaimed. “I am hoping to raise $25 million.”
O’Byrne’s motivation stems from being sexually assaulted by a hockey coach he put his trust in while hoping to gain employment with an Ontario midget team.
The 45-minute ordeal created lasting scars; O’Byrne turned to drugs and alcohol.
“I nearly died,” he said. “I was fortunate to find the right people. They pulled me back.”
Included in that crowd is Theoren Fleury, the storied Calgary Flames alum who also continues to live with the damage caused by sexually abusive coach Graham James.
Fleury recently convinced O’Byrne to move to Calgary and is now helping his ambitious apprentice of sorts towards his cross-country stickhandling trek, which is officially dubbed the I’m 1 in 5 Cross Canada Tour and slated to begin in June 1, 2013. The tour’s name is derived from rough estimates on the frequency of male sexual abuse.
“It’s estimated that 1 in 5 men are sexually assaulted or abused and that’s only accounting for the ones that are actually willing to tell their story.” — Paul O’Byrne
Fleury, meanwhile, said he’s more than happy to help raise awareness about the struggle faced by countless victims.
“There are more places aimed at helping the abusers than their victims,” Fleury said. “That has to change.”
More information about O’Byrne and his initiative can be found at im1in5.com.
- Paul O’Byrne’s abuser, Randy Fakelman of Teeterville, Ontario, was formally sentenced to six months house arrest and 18 months probation in early 2008.