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Ben Brown is re-energized. After competing in wheelchair racing for 12 years, he’s made the move to para sprint canoe. It came after the 34-yearold Cambridge resident had an honest discussion with his track coach, Ueli Albert, following a dozen years in the sport without a trip to the world championships or the Paralympics. “He felt I still had the potential to win a medal at Paralympics, it was just a matter what avenue to go,” Brown said. It was tough initially for Brown, who grew up in Weston, to think about moving away from wheelchair racing. “It was who identified myself as – especially for the last 10 years,” said Brown, noting A fundraiser to support Cambridge para paddler Ben Brown. Due to the pandemic and associated gathering restrictions, he is holding a takeout dinner at the Berwick Lions Club. The meal will be a pork roast donated by Meadowbrook Meat Market with vegetables. There will also be an auction through Facebook. Feb. 27. that apprehension quickly disappeared after his first race in the canoe. “I’m a paddler and I’m loving this.” Brown was paralyzed from the chest down following an ATV motocross accident in 2006. He was 22 when he got into wheelchair racing and during the next 12 years went on to win five national titles, among a slew of other achievements. Looking back, Brown said, he thinks he was getting burnt out with track, but canoe has that fire burning as strong as ever. “It’s rejuvenated me,” he said. “I’m really loving the challenge and it’s just something new and exciting.” TRAINING Brown joined the Maskwa Aquatic Club in Halifax at the end of the summer and trained on Kearney Lake. He acknowledged it was a huge learning curve for him, but he has already made a lot of progress transitioning to his new sport. His coach agreed. Jacob McKenna, Maskwa’s assistant coach, has worked with Brown since September. “I think Ben’s progression has been unbelievable so far,” he said. When he arrived at the club, Brown’s goal was to qualify for the world championships, which are being held Aug. 3 to 7 at Lake Banook in Dartmouth. McKenna said he sees that as being attainable and can envision Brown capturing a medal, given his ascension in his new sport, motivation and determination. “I think he’s obsessed with trying to be the best in the world, which is awesome when you’re an athlete,” McKenna said. “He will do whatever it takes to be the best, which not everybody has that in them. I’m sure a lot of that comes from him being an elite athlete before on the track.” The career change means Brown drives to the city six days a week during the paddling season. He’s also looking at the possibility of doing some training on Lake George when he doesn’t have to be on the water twice a day to help keep costs down. Brown is hosting a takeout dinner on Feb. 27 to raise funds for his latest pursuit, which he hopes leads him to the 2024 Paralympics in Paris. Brown has lowered his times significantly since he began paddling. His practice times put him in a position to compete for a medal with some of the top para canoers in his classification. Brown went to Florida and trained for four weeks late last year. While there, he picked up a new paddle, which has helped in his training. His strength has also improved, something which wasn’t as important in wheelchair racing as being lean with a good power-to-weight ratio were key. Brown plans to head back to Florida for six weeks of training in March and April. The first regatta of the season is in early May, which is also the trials for the World Cup, which will take place in Poland. The World Cup would provide Brown with an opportunity to be internationally classified and see the competition he would likely face at the world championship. Brown is the first para paddler McKenna has worked with, but he noted the club is looking to expand its para program this spring. “I’m trying to recruit,” Brown said. “It’s a great activity.”