Including More Than a Dozen Who Have Been Engaged with DSUSA Chapters Across the Country
Founded in 1967, Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA) provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through participation in sports. These sports opportunities transform the people that are served, highlighting the potential in every person that is embodied in the organization’s motto: “If I can do this, I can do anything!”
Through a nationwide network of 125 community-based chapters in more than 40 states, Disabled Sports USA serves over 60,000 youth, wounded warriors and adults each year. About 25,000 youth with disabilities are served annually through DSUSA’s Empower Youth Sports initiative. Empower Youth Sports ensures that no one sits on the sidelines because of a disability.
Athletes that compete at the highest level have an opportunity to become part of Team USA and compete at the Paralympic Games. Of the 74 athletes that will represent the United States at the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, 61 of them have participated in Disabled Sports USA programs or been involved in one of DSUSA’s 125 chapters across the country.
WARFIGHTER SPORTS PROGRAM
Disabled Sports USA’s Warfighter Sports program serves approximately 1,600 severely injured warriors and their families annually. Since 2003, over 12,000 severely injured veterans and their families have been provided access to more than 50 adaptive sports at no cost to them. Thirteen athletes competing in PyeongChang have participated in Warfighter Sports activities, including alpine and Nordic skiers Kevin Burton, Josh Elliott, Andrew Soule, and Bryan Price, as well as snowboarders Jimmy Sides and Michael Spivey.
Several players on the U.S. Sled Hockey Team are also former military members and have participated in Warfighter Sports activities, including Rico Roman, Ralph DeQuebec, Jen Lee, Travis Dodson, Luke McDermott, Josh Misiewicz, as well as Wheelchair Curler Kirk Black.
Para Alpine Skier Josh Elliott hopes to represent his country with pride as an athlete, just as he did as a United States Marine. The retired Marine Sergeant got into monoskiing in December 2011 through Disabled Sports USA’s Warfighter Sports program. Just eight months earlier, Elliott was in a medically-induced coma and had lost both of his legs by stepping on an IED (improvised explosive device) during a combat tour in Afghanistan. “Monoskiing quickly became one of my biggest therapies,” he said. “Competitive alpine ski racing made me realize my full potential and gave me the drive to continue to live.”
The Disabled Sports USA E-Team is designed to support and empower emerging youth athletes with disabilities, between 13-24 years of age, who are training competitively in sports featured in the Paralympic Games.
Ten members of Team USA have been part of DSUSA’s E-Team, including alpine skiers Andrew Kurka, Tyler Carter, Jamie Stanton, Andrew Haraghey, Connor Hogan, and Allison Kunkel; snowboarders Brenna Huckaby and Noah Elliott; and Nordic athletes Grace Miller and Ruslan Reiter.
DSUSA TRAINING AND COMPETITION EVENTS
Twenty-four athletes have been a part of events hosted and organized by Disabled Sports USA. Those athletes include alpine skiers Mark Bathum, Spencer Wood, Stephanie Jallen, Tyler Walker, Laurie Stephens, Danielle Umstead, Rob Umstead, Stephen Lawler, Staci Mannella, Jasmin Bambur, Melanie Schwartz and Thomas Walsh; snowboarders Nicole Roundy, Mike Shea, Jr., Keith Gabel, Arlene Cohen, Mike Minor, Mike Schultz, Amy Purdy, Brittani Coury, and Evan Strong; Nordic skiers Oksana Masters and Sean Halstead; and sled hockey player Jack Wallace.
Snowboarder Mike Shea, Jr., a Silver medalist at Sochi in 2014, will once again be representing Team USA in PyeongChang. “Setting expectations can get us into trouble,” he said. “But I would like to be on the podium and do better than last time,” he said.
Another snowboarder, Brittani Coury, will be making her first trip to the Paralympics. “I made the US team relatively quickly. So, my goal is to just keep progressing the way I have been. To keep improving on my riding and hopefully I’m on a podium in March. And hopefully I’m impacting other people in a positive way,” she said.
And finally, fourteen members of Team USA have participated with one or more chapters of Disabled Sports USA, including Nordic skiers Dan Cnossen and Joy Rondeau (National Sports Center For The Disabled in Colorado) and Kendall Gretsch (Dare2Tri in Illinois).
Several members of the Sled Hockey team have played with teams associated with DSUSA Chapters, including Steve Cash, Josh Pauls, and Billy Hannings from Disabled Athlete Sports Association (Missouri), Brody Roybal and Kevin McKee from Shirley Ryan Ability Lab (Illinois), Noah Grove (Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland and Northeast Passage in New Hampshire), and Declan Farmer (Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports in Colorado).
In addition, the entire U.S. Wheelchair Curling Team, which includes Black as well as Meghan Lino, Penny Greely, Justin Marshall, and Steve Emt, trained and participated in activities at STRIDE (Rensselaer, NY) leading up to the 2018 Winter Games
Disabled Sports USA is a proud member of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Like many, we will be rooting for these Team USA athletes at the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, which takes place March 9-18.