Anyone who spends a few moments speaking with Patrick Anderson and Anna Paddock will realize a few things that they're really good at.
Anderson is a wheelchair basketball player and half of the band The Layawakes. His wife, Paddock, comprises the other half of the husband/wife duo.
It's putting faith and family first, however, that ties it all together for the couple. Something that has been put to the test for both Anderson and Paddock throughout their lives.
Anderson, who now plays for the New York Rollin Knicks and Team Canada, is largely considered to be the greatest wheelchair basketball player in the world, according to Wheelchair Basketball Canada. He first started playing wheelchair basketball when he was nine years old, following a car accident with a drunk driver.
The accident left Anderson without legs below the knee, but not without his competitive edge and drive to succeed.
Prior to losing his legs, Anderson grew up in a small Ontario town, "playing hockey and playing piano and singing songs, wanting to be Wayne Gretzky on some days and Elton John on other days," the athlete recalls.
Able to enjoy the best of both worlds now as a professional athlete and musician, Anderson is grateful for how far he's come, but still remembers the initial darkness following his accident.
"After that accident, both of those things kind of changed for me a bit. Well, I guess sports changed quite a lot," the athlete said. "I went from playing hockey to watching my friends play hockey."
That was 30 years ago, and Anderson considers himself one of the lucky ones, having been introduced to the sport of wheelchair basketball as young as he was.
"Some people go a long time after acquiring a disability without knowing about adaptive sports," shared the athlete.
In 1997, Anderson made the national team for the first time and has played for Team Canada ever since.
To speak with the athlete now, it wouldn't seem as if the difficult time after losing his legs was a major set back, despite the painful adjustment Anderson and his family had to go through at the time.
"It took a long time to get over... [but] when I tell my story... I can kind of breeze past my hard times quickly because, for one thing, it was a long time ago," Anderson explained, "and for another, I've been blessed in so many ways since then, I try to reflect on those blessings."
The impact of his community and church in supporting his family following the accident is just one of those blessings Anderson remembers.
"Basketball, among other things, has been some sort of calling on my life," Anderson said. "To use what I have and not focus so much on what I've lost. I see God in very practical ways, through the hands and feet of the church providing meals and helping my family get through that tough time.
"The idea that God can really use whatever we have through his purposes... it's a role that I've always taken seriously, that people see and notice me in the wheelchair basketball world, and I want to be an example of someone who competes with class, with integrity, and treat people with respect, and to wear my faith on my sleeve when I can," said Anderson.
It wasn't until meeting and marrying Paddock, however, that he was able to bring his love of music prominently back into his life.
"We both had an interest in music and after we got married, we'd sit around and play songs a little bit... that sort of evolved into starting to record and to write and perform together."
The Lay Awakes, though not explicitly labelled under the Christian genre, talks of family, life, and faith through their music. Paddock describes their music as singer/songwriter, something she feels gives the pair enough leniency in their writing to give them range within the genre.
At the centre of what they do, regardless of their musical genre, is faith. Paddock, a professionally trained musician, sees music and faith as one and the same.
"That's the most important thing to us," Paddock said. "Music and how I express myself is all sort of all part of my conversation with God and how I act on my faith."
Their musical journey is one Paddock says centres purely around following Jesus.
"If we connect with one person at a show, we're super thrilled," Anderson shared. "Whether the crowd is big or small, we're looking for those connections."
Tour life, says Anderson and Paddock, has been everything from exciting to exhausting. Balancing busy schedules, daily travel and performances, and caring for their two kids have given the duo plenty to do over the past while.
"Like anything," Paddock says, "you sort of maybe have certain types of dreams, and then there will be a... small moment within a day where you feel like you're living the dream or living a dream you didn't even imagine because it's that great, and then pretty quickly after that it's easy to believe that it's not worth pursuing at all."
Adapting to life as it presents itself is something Paddock says she has come to embrace. "Sometimes you don't know why you're specifically doing something... but you certainly can't do it all."
Ultimately, Paddock and Anderson know that faith and family will remain the constants they can rely on throughout their lives.
"I think getting to work with Patrick and knowing that we ultimately share our faith and our love for our kids and growing as a family... is certainly helpful as a way to move forward, knowing that we're not pursuing success or a certain vision of success that will quit if it doesn't work out."
Written by Libby Giesbrecht