Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Time to Follow the London Paralympics!

The Summer Olympics have come and gone with their usual high profile coverage in the past month. I find the Olympics always fascinating to follow - and how great it was to see so many ads showing Paralympic athletes along with Olympic athletes!

Now, on the eve of the London Paralympics, it has become evident that these will be the biggest Paralympics ever, with over 4000 athletes competing from 160 countries. Almost 2.5 million tickets have been sold already, a likely indicator of a first time sell-out in Paralympic history. Media coverage will be greater than for previous Paralympics and offered in more countries than ever before.

Beginning on Aug. 29 and continuing through the conclusion of the Games on Sept. 9, U.S. Paralympics will provide 10 daily video highlights packages via its U.S. Paralympics YouTube channel. The videos will chronicle the competition, athlete stories and will also include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Videos chronicling the lead-up to the Games are also be available now.

In addition to the online content, NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will air one-hour highlight shows on Sept. 4, 5, 6 and 11 at 7 p.m. EDT. Following the Paralympic Games, on Sept. 16, NBC will broadcast a 90 minute special from 2-3:30 p.m. EDT. All NBC and NBC Sports Network Paralympic highlight shows and specials will re-air on Universal Sports Network and UniversalSports.com.

The IPC, the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement, also recently announced its online coverage plans for the 2012 Paralympic Games, which will include broadcasting 580 hours of live sport from London 2012 on Paralympic.org during the competition.

Some of the athletes I will be following include:

Victoria Arlen of Exeter, NH, a 17 year old swimmer with Transverse Myelitis who broke 2 world records and 10 Pan American and American records at the U.S. Paralympic Trials in Bismarck, ND, this June.

Blake Leeper of Nashville, TN, a 22 year old blade runner who has tied Olympian Oscar Pistorius's world record of 10.91 seconds in the 100m T43 and will be running against him in what may be the most popular event of the 2012 Paralympics.

Anjali Forber-Pratt of Natick, MA, an avid wheelchair racer and eloquent Paralympic ambassador I met last year who has broken all kinds of records and will be competing in her 2nd Paralympics.

Who are your favorite Paralympians???

Adaptive Recreation Highlights in August

DCR Universal Access Program update in Massachusetts State Parks - It has been a very busy summer and gone by all too fast! Some of my favorite moments from this month - 

Hiking at Walden Pond - I was thrilled to see David and others travel 1.7 miles around the pond where Henry David Thoreau staked his claim to literary history. We visited the original site of Henry's hand-hewn cabin with three people in wheelchairs then worked our way along the well-beaten trail - even over some massive stone steps. It was a real sense of accomplishment for all involved. David transferred out of his new power wheelchair - which he controls with his head - to circumnavigate the popular pond with his wife Brenda and Universal Access Program staff Chauncey and Fiona.

Horseback Riding at Bradley Palmer State Park - I fit in a visit to our annual 2 day riding program in which people with all kinds of disabilities take the high view of the trail thanks to Windrush Farms from nearby Boxford. They provide staff, volunteers and four mellow horses, plus a wheelchair ramp that unfolds off of a trailer. One hour rides give some the much needed enjoyment some have waited for all summer, even those who may have ridden all their lives prior to losing a leg, as was the case for Posie (shown on left with cane) and Lee (astride the first horse).

Sailing at Community Boating in Boston - It was a pleasure to meet Margaret, a participant who has been sailing for four years and now spends most days of her summer on the dock and river. When she's not sailing, she uses skills honed in building theater sets to help out with much needed tasks at Boston's oldest public sailing venue, including creating the sign at the entrance. Margaret's arthritis, vision impairment, and lack of private transportation don't stop her from taking the T to pursue her passion.

Though horseback riding is done for the season, hiking and sailing continue into the fall. Don't let summer end without fulfilling your sense of adventure!

September 6 - George's Island, Boston Harbor
September 13 - Chicopee State Park, Chicopee
September 30 - Bradley Palmer State Park, Topsfield
October 3 - Holyoke Range State Park, Amherst
October 18 - Borderland State Park, Sharon
October 20 - Maudslay State Park, Newburyport
Call Stavros Outdoor Access at 413-259-0009 to sign up!

August 27- September 30
Weekdays: 1-5pm
Weekends: 10am-3pm
Call Community Boating at 617-523-1038 to find out more. Sessions through the fall are booked, but visiting to check out the program for next year is a worthwhile chance to enjoy the Esplanade and there may be cancellations!