Paralympic Academy Beijing

Four Alaskan's tAlaskans in Beijingraveled to Beijing, China as part of the US Olympic Committee, Paralympic Division, Paralympic Academy Beijing; Dalton Deitrich, athlete, Regina Deitrich, mother, Dave Poulin, Coach and myself, Beth Edmands, Program Administrator. The Alaskan's joined 33 others in the second wave of the program, designed to inspire and motivate young disabled athletes by including them in the Paralympic experience. The group was in Beijing for 7 days and while there we cheered on Team USA in Paralympic Competition in the Sports of Quad Rugby, Seated Volleyball, Wheelchair Basketball, Track and Field, Swimming and Fencing. Competition was intense and the US was third in the medal race behind Great Britain and China respectively.

In additon to the outstanding athletic competion the venues such as the Bird's Nest and Water Cube along with the cultural sites we visited; The Great Wall of China at Badaling, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City were incredible. There were so many fantastic experiences it is hard to name one as the best but I will have to say the morning meetings with US Paralympians were outstanding. Our athletes and future Paralympians eyes grew wide when viewing the bronze, silver and gold medals and had their pictures taken with the athletes. Parents took mental notes when athletes spoke about the importance of their parents support and detailed their Paralympic path to success.

Finally I must thank Charlie Huebner, Joe Walsh, John Register, Sonya NoParalympic Academy Beijingrris, Dean Nakamura, Kassy Golden, Krista Fagala, and Dr. Eugene Byrne of US Paralympics for making this incredible, inspirational, amazing experience possible. Thank you to our Dartmouth interns, Morgan Cawdrey, Emily Eberle, Bill Lundin, and Yizhou (Jo) Xu, for their knowledge of China and interpretation skills that enhanced our experience 10 fold. Thank you to all the athletes and their parents (or sisters, brothers, aunts) for their friendship and camraderie that inspires me to continue to build and grow our Paralympic Sports Alaska program. Last but never least thank you to the coaches and other community leaders for all you do for the development of the Paralympic movement I am proud to be your peer!