My interest in Paralympic sports was sparked after viewing Murderball, a gripping documentary on the fierce athleticism of wheelchair rugby competitors. Earlier this summer, I spoke with Charlie Huebner, Chief of Paralympics, U.S. Olympic Center based in Colorado, about the paralympics movement in the U.S. Still in its infancy, the Paralympic movement has grown exponentially both in the diversity of sports
venues and in the broad ranging disabilities of its athletes.
The Paralympic games take place on the international stage every four years alongside the Olympic games, but disparities in funding exist. “Paralympians have the same struggles and challenges as Olympic athletes,” says Heubner. How can communities get involved in supporting U.S Paralympics? To directly support an athlete or team, the donation of funds can go toward coaching, travel, or training.
To promote athletics on a community level, the U.S. Paralympics sponsor sports clubs, which are designed to engage youth with disabilities in physical activity. Currently, U.S. Paralympics is partnering with community organizations across the U.S. to establish 250 sports clubs by 2012. Better yet, the London 2012 Paralympic games are less than 2 years away—no need to wait to take an interest. The U.S. Paralympic website is packed with news on each sport, progress of individual athletes, and up-to-date news on qualifying competitions en route to 2012.
A look back to the 2008 NYT coverage of the Paralympic games offers a glimpse into the distinctive stories of athletes who competed, particularly the military servicemen and women who entered Paralympic sport
through their rehabilitation. A recurrent theme came up in my conversation with Huebner, who asserted, “We see the healing power of sport every day."
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