Living life and achieving dreams

Living life and achieving dreams

For 12 days coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games dominated the news and social media with posts, Tweets, blogs and more about the athletes, the games and the spirit of competition.

Tonight is the Opening Ceremonies for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games…and coverage has been little to non-existent. But that’s no excuse. If you’re not familiar with the Paralympics or the Paralympians that compete, let me sum it up – living life and achieving their dreams.

I received the following message from the U.S. Olympic Committee today via e-mail and instead of paraphrasing it I’ve decided to include the entire context here.

It’s important for all of us to understand where these athletes come from, their challenges and the amazing sacrifice these individuals made for themselves, their families and our country. And over the next 12 days as they reach for Gold, they need to know that we’re cheering them on. I know I will. I personally wish all the athletes success as they strive to do more than most ever will.  

Three stories. One dream.

Dear Ronele,

The Opening Ceremony for the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games begins tonight. For Team USA, these games represent years of endurance and anticipation. Let me introduce three Paralympians who share one inspiring dream.

Alexi Salamone. Adopted from the Ukraine after being born with deformed legs as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Alexi just wanted to be like other kids. Wrestling and sled hockey made that possible. Now years later, Alexi has been named to his second U.S. Paralympic Team.

Heath Calhoun. After losing both legs while serving in Iraq as a squad leader for the 101st airborne, Heath learned to ski through the Disabled Sports USA Wounded Warrior Project and the Disabled American Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. Paralympic sport became a critical part of his rehabilitation. His three-year-old son now says, “Daddy, you can run with me again.” Heath has been named to the U.S. Paralymic Team and is honored to be the U.S. Flag Bearer for Opening Ceremonies.

Nikko Landerros. A high school wrestler, Nikko and his best friend were hit by a car in 2007. Both boys lost their legs. Shortly after, Nikko toured the Olympic Training Center, visited with Paralympic ambassadors, and was introduced to sled hockey. Today Nikko is a proud member of the 2010 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team.

Three stories. One dream.

For the next 12 days, your U.S. Paralympic Team will compete for Gold at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. Please join us in cheering on the extraordinary athletes who make up Team USA!

Charlie Huebner
Chief of Paralympics
United States Olympic Committee

P.S. Thank you to the many who support Paralympic Sports Programs in 114 communities nationwide. Your generosity enables athletes with disabilities to participate in competition and in life.

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