Jessica Tuomela may have lost her vision to retina cancer at the age of three. But she’s never been one to back away from a challenge.
The three-time Paralympian has successfully conquered the sports realm, having won a silver medal in swimming at the 2000 Paralympic Summer games. She is also trained as a triathlete after learning how to run and bike in tandem with a sighted partner.
So when the pandemic cancelled her plans to compete in the 2020 Paralympics, she decided to switch gears and focus on helping people with the help of a canine companion.
She now has her own company, True North Canine, with the goal of providing “peace of mind, safety, and empowerment for dog owners, families, and communities.” Jessica does so by working with a specially-trained dog in order to track down scents of missing people.
That dog’s name is Lucy, and she was trained under an ex-FBI agent in Florida. Jessica found her after contacting Scent Evidence K9 in the US.
“It gets me to work with a dog, which I absolutely love. It also helps me help other people, which is another passion of mine,”Jessica Tuomela
Jessica and Lucy’s first successful case was just a few weeks ago after an 89-year-old woman with dementia went missing near Saanich. The pair successfully recovered the missing woman after Lucy dove into the lake and found her wading in the water. The “woman was happy to see Lucy and asked if she could pet her.”
“I have won many medals in my athletic career, but none of them compared to the feeling I had when we found the missing woman and reunited her with her family,” Jessica commented in a post on Scent Evidence.
From competing in the Paralympics to saving lives, Jessica Tuomela wants to use her extraordinary skills to give back to her community.
“It gets me to work with a dog, which I absolutely love. It also helps me help other people, which is another passion of mine,” Jessica told CTV News. “Why wouldn’t I do that?”