Tommy is on the cover of iRun Magazine!

Tommy is on the cover of iRun Magazine! Please visit and like iRun’s facebook page!

Here is the link to the issue:

A huge warm thank you to Ben Kaplan who wrote about Tommy in the issue released today! We are so humbled and honoured, and always so grateful for the incredible support for Tommy on his journey, and for the community of people who embrace Tommy and celebrate his successes along with us! We feel so very blessed to be supported by so many wonderful people and welcoming communities- we are so grateful to Tommy’s family, friends, fellow runners, and athletes, coaches, physical therapists, online followers and YouTube subscribers, Disney friends, Autism friends, the Ottawa Lions Track & Field Clb Athletics Canada Run Ottawa Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides ZiZU Optics Bridlewood Community Association – Kanata, Ontario Runner’s World Magazine Kanata Kourier-Standard: Metroland Media tv Rogers Ottawa Zoom Autism Ottawa Sports Awards Ausome Ottawa The Rideau Canoe Club Lanark County Therapeutic Riding Program Vertical Reality and many more!
Tommy is ready to run the Canada Army Run half marathon this Sunday, and we are thrilled to have him be a part of such an amazing event! Best wishes to all the runners this weekend at the Army Run! See you all there!
#autismmeansfriendship #whee

Kanata runner represents Canada at world para championships- Tommy in the Kanata Kourier newspaper following Worlds

Many thanks to reporter Jessica Cunha at the Kanata Kourier-Standard: Metroland Media for this lovely story about Tommy Des Brisay at worlds! It’s been an incredible, exciting journey for Tommy to have the honour to represent Canada at the World Para Athletic Championships in London this summer! There are still many videos we plan to upload to his YouTube channel, to allow his friends to share in the journey…so please stay tuned to see more about Tommy’s wonderful experience while at the games and in London, England! We are still settling back in at home in Ottawa, winding down from all the excitement, and processing all the amazing memories! We are so very grateful to everyone who worked hard to make this experience possible for Tommy, and for all the heartfelt support Tommy has received over the past several weeks. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts

Here is the full text:

Kanata runner represents Canada at world para championships

‘I feel stronger all the time’: Des Brisay

SPORTS Aug 04, 2017 by Jessica Cunha Kanata Kourier-Standard


Tommy Des Brisay

Bridlewood’s Tommy Des Brisay competes in the 5,000-metre T20 final at the 2017 IPC Para Athletics World Championships in London, England. – Yonathan Kellerman/Athletics Canada

Kanata’s Tommy Des Brisay wore the maple leaf proudly at the 2017 IPC Para Athletics World Championships in London, England, last month.

It was the first time the 25-year-old elite runner with autism competed on the world Para stage and the second time he ran without knowing anyone else on the track.

“It was thrilling to see Tommy stand shoulder to shoulder at the start line with T20 athletes from countries worldwide, run a strong race alongside them and then shake hands congratulating them after the race,” said his mother, MaryAnn Given Des Brisay.

The T20 classification broadly covers athletes with intellectual disabilities. Tommy finished eighth in the T20 5,000-metre race (out of 13 athletes) with a time of 15:48:93, and in the 12th spot (out of 12) in the T20 1,500m, running a time of 4:50:77.


  • Kanata runner to compete in world Para championships

“(It was) his first ever experience on the world stage in a huge venue with crowds like those at the London Olympic Stadium,” said MaryAnn. “Watching athletes from all over the world with diverse abilities come together in such an exciting venue, cheering on Team Canada as many of our athletes won medals … it was really incredible to be there and experience Tommy being a part of it.”

Tommy, who lives in Bridlewood, said he felt good representing Team Canada in London and worked hard to focus on his races.

“I feel stronger all the time,” he said, following his return home.

A number of Tommy’s family and friends made the trip to cheer him on, including his brother Paul and sister-in-law Laura from Winnipeg, family from London, France, Vancouver — and some YouTube fans who followTommy’s online channel.

“There were lots and lots of friends and family watching,” said MaryAnn. “We have all been very moved by the incredible support Tommy has received from his thousands of YouTube fans and Facebook followers, cheering him on and wishing him success.”

While in London for the championships, Tommy also had the opportunity to play tourist.


Tommy, a Paralympic hopeful for Tokyo 2020, began running competitively at age 14 with his father Peter and was an alternate at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

He was one of the first T20 athletes to compete at worlds representing Canada, said his mom.

“Tommy is paving the path for future T20 athletes and opening doors for opportunity for other neurodiverse Canadians,” said MaryAnn. “(He) is a great ambassador, showing that autistic and other intellectually different people can succeed and even represent Canada on a world stage, as they have abilities to be celebrated.”

She’s driven to share Tommy’s story to help encourage other parents and caregivers of people with autism, particularly those who are in the early stages after being diagnosed, she said, adding it can be an uncertain time for many.

“They can have a good life,” she said. “Tommy is having a good and happy life. I really feel motivated to share his story, partly for that reason.”

For the immediate future, Tommy plans to take a break from track and focus on transitioning back to road racing, said his mom.

“Tommy truly enjoys running in community road races, connecting with other Ottawa residents and racing alongside many of his friends from the Ottawa Lions Club,” MaryAnn said, adding that long-distance running is where her son shines. “He’s won Road Racer of the Year at the Ottawa Sports Awards for the past three years due to his strong performances in the marathon, half-marathon and 10-kilometre events.”

Looking further ahead, he plans to continue preparing for the summer Paralympic Games in 2020.

“Tommy hopes to return to train with Athletics Canada at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center (in California) for warm weather training, and in Flagstaff (Arizona) for altitude training in 2018, as he continues to work toward competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games,” said MaryAnn. “Hopefully, his London experience was the foundation for future experiences going forward.”

Follow Tommy on his website at and on Facebook by searching@tommydesbrisay.autismmeansfriendship.

Correction: this story has been updated to clarify this was Tommy’s first time competing in the world Para championships and his second time racing without knowing anyone on the track. He previously competed at an international race in Italy. The Kourier-Standard apologizes for the error.

Jessica Cunha

by Jessica Cunha

Jessica Cunha is a reporter and photographer at the Kanata Kourier-Standard. She can be reached Follow her on Twitterand Facebook

eMail: Facebook Twitter

Kanata runner to compete in world Para championships-Tommy in Kanata Kourier before Worlds


Kanata runner to compete in world Para championships

Elite athlete heading to Switzerland, England with Team Canada

SPORTS Jun 30, 2017 by Jessica Cunha Kanata Kourier-Standard

Tommy Des Brisay

Kanata’s Tommy Des Brisay wins the 5-km Road Race on Canada Day 2016 with a personal best of 15:24. The elite runner with autism will compete at the World Para Athletics Championships in London, England this July. – Zoomphoto Event Photography Pool

Tommy Des Brisay

Kanata’s Tommy Des Brisay will represent Canada at the World Para Athletics Championships in London, England this July. The 25-year-old elite runner with autism is ranked third in the world in the 5,000-metre for athletes with an intellectual impairment. – Jessica Cunha/Metroland

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Kanata’s Tommy Des Brisay will represent Canada at the World Para Athletics Championships in July.

The 25-year-old elite runner with autism was named to Team Canada and will travel first to Switzerland for training, then on to London, England, for the championships, running July 14 to 23.

Currently ranked third in the world in the 5,000 metres for athletes with an intellectual impairment, Des Brisay will race in the 5,000 m and 1,500 m.

“He’ll be there wearing the Maple Leaf,” said his mother MaryAnn Given Des Brisay. “He’s going to make Canada proud.”

The Bridlewood runner – who owns an extensive collection of Disney movies and can quote characters from any film – said he’s going to channel his inner Dash Parr, the young superhero with superhuman speed from the animated picture The Incredibles. Des Brisay uses bits from Disney films to relate what he’s feeling and thinking.

“I decided to be like Dash Incredible,” he said. “I must find some way to be the first toughest runner in the world.”

Sometimes he says he wants to be the fastest runner, or the happiest or the strongest. The words change, but his passion for running doesn’t waver.

“He’s gotten to know more athletes from all over Canada and gotten to know coaches,” said MaryAnn. “Now for him to be selected to go to worlds … it’s helping him grow as a person and helping him become more self-sufficient.”

Des Brisay has excelled at long-distance running and the evidence hangs on a wall in his bedroom, which is crowded with medals, trophies and ribbons.

Among his long list of running accomplishments are a first-place win at the Canada Army Run half-marathon last year where he finished ahead of 8,500 participants with a time of 1:12:25; a silver finish in the 5,000 m at his first international race, held in Italy in 2016; and three years running he’s been named Road Racer of the Year at the Ottawa Sports Award banquet.

Des Brisay, who was next in line to race at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, is a Paralympic hopeful for Tokyo 2020. His goal, he said, is to represent Canada and compete at the Paralympics.

“I like being active,” he said. “I’m going to be the first strongest runner in the world.”


Des Brisay began running competitively at age 14 with his father, Peter, a past member of the national cross-country ski team and former runner.

“Tommy’s dad was always going out for a run and Tommy really liked being active,” said MaryAnn. “The idea was that maybe he would like the routine and maybe it would give him a new outlet for some of his energy.”

Des Brisay took to the sport. He began competing in high school track, and then cross-country and road races. He does interval training with his dad in the basement and is a member of the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club, where he trains three times a week, “Monday, Wednesday and Saturday,” he said.

“It’s been such a transformation for him; it’s given him so many opportunities for socializing and being part of this community,” said MaryAnn.

“When you get a diagnosis like autism, it’s kind of like people saying that your child has all these limits, all these disabilities – and he is very disabled, he’s still very autistic, he needs a lot of support – but when he gets on that track and he runs, he’s independent.”

Around the same time he began competitive running, he also launched a YouTube channel. He enjoyed watching other people’s videos and wanted to make his own.

“He told me to put him on YouTube, it wasn’t my idea,” said MaryAnn, adding she figured they would post a couple of videos “very discreetly” because she was concerned about online safety.

“I didn’t foresee (this),” she said, laughing. The channel now has more than 21,500 subscribers.

It features videos of him at races and while training, as well as trips to Disney, playing guitar and family celebrations.

The family has received messages from people around the world, some who were inspired by Des Brisay to take up running, while others have written that the videos helped them when they were depressed.

“That means a lot when you really think about how autism is a thing where you supposedly can’t communicate, but Tommy has communicated a really strong message to a lot of people,” said MaryAnn. “He’s touched a lot of lives.”

Des Brisay leaves for training in Switzerland on July 7 before flying to London on July 12. He returns to Ottawa on July 24.

Follow Des Brisay on his website at and on Facebook by searching@tommydesbrisay.autismmeansfriendship.

Jessica Cunha

by Jessica Cunha

Jessica Cunha is a reporter and photographer at the Kanata Kourier-Standard. She can be reached Follow her on Twitterand Facebook

eMail: Facebook Twitter

Tommy’s story on Rogers show “Celebrate Ottawa”

In June 2017,  Tom Sparks and Iain Murphy of tv Rogers Ottawa‘s Studio created an amazing video piece telling Tommy’s story on their show “Celebrate Ottawa”! That video is here:
Thank you for the beautiful video story, Tom and Iain!

Tommy ran a New 1500m Personal Best of 4:09 on June 7

Tommy ran a new personal best in the 1500m or 4:09 on June 7 at the Ottawa Lions Twilight Meet at Mooney’s Bay track, Tommy’s home track. Here is the YouTube video:

It is always an amazing feeling for Tommy to run at home, surrounded by his wonderful friends and teammates. The Ottawa Lions are such an amazing club, with incredible people who have become like family to Tommy and us.

Congratulations to Jason Dunkerley and his Guide runner Jeremie Venne, who have also been selected to Team Canada to race at the World Para Athletic Championships in London England this July! Tommy is lucky to have good friends from the Ottawa Lions traveling to the Worlds along with him as part of Team Canada. Jason and Jeremy ran a great race too the evening of June 7! Go Ottawa Lions! We are excited to support you on your adventure to Worlds 2017!

#OttawaLions #TeamCanada #ParaWorlds#London2017 #Tokyo2020 #AthleticsCanada#Whee

Tommy going to World Para Athletic Championships with Team Canada

Big news!
Tommy was named to Team Canada for the World Para Athletics Championships which will take place in London, England in July 2017! Thank you to everyone who supports Tommy and cheers him on, helping him on his journey as an athlete.
Here is Athletics Canada‘s list of all the amazing Canadian Para Athletes on Team Canada!
And a link to the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Clubstory about the 4 local athletes selected!
#whee #london2017 #tokyo2020 #teamcanadaRunner’s World Runner’s World Magazine Canadian Running Magazine

A Story about Tommy in the Washington Post- May 6, 2017

Thank you to The Washington Post for their story about Tommy!  You can read the story here:


Here is the story:


These runners have autism, and that’s a quite good combination

Tommy Des Brisay, foreground, has autism. He sings and recites lines from movies while running. (Laurent Edeline)
May 6

When Tommy Des Brisay runs a race, his competitors take notice. It’s not just that the 25-year-old Canadian is fast, although he can zip through a 5K (3.1 miles) in about 15 minutes. It’s also hard to ignore his habit of singing Disney songs and reciting lines from his favorite movies.

“They kind of look at him like ‘What the hell? Why aren’t you dying like the rest of us?’ ” says his father, Peter, in a special report from Runner’s World magazine that explores the connection between running and people — people such as Des Brisay — with autism. In the decade since Des Brisay’s dad first took him along on a daily run, he has gotten more involved in the sport. Along the way, he has become much less anxious, more social and not as dependent on medication.

As writer Alison Wade lays out, research is starting to back up what Des Brisay’s family has seen firsthand: Running can really make a difference. She cites a 2016 study that showed students with autism who were in a running program improved their social awareness, cognition, communication and more.

“Despite its benefits, no one is claiming that running is the equivalent of a magic pill that will eradicate the challenges that people with autism face,” Wade notes. And there are certainly extra hurdles that people with autism face when running. In Des Brisay’s case, for instance, his dad needs to tag along during road races to monitor whether his son is hydrating and following instructions. Also, starting guns and large crowds don’t jibe well with sensory sensitivities.

But people on the autism spectrum may have an easier time with other aspects of running, Wade writes: “After all, some of the characteristics that would lead to an autism diagnosis — repetitive behaviors, strict adherence to a routine, highly restricted, fixated interests — are helpful for training.”

Wade cites several other runners in addition to Des Brisay, including Grace Ling, a sophomore on an athletic scholarship at California’s Santa Clara University who credits Asperger’s syndrome for her motivation. There’s also 20-year-old Mikey Brannigan, who’s got a shot at making the U.S. Olympic team.

His mother, Edie Brannigan, has advice for other parents of children with autism: “Get them moving. Get them swimming, get them running, get them walking, get them moving. Move, move, move, move, move.”

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