Every four years the sport of curling gains new attention during the Winter Olympic and Paralympic games. The sport is played on ice with two teams of four people sliding large polished granite stones towards a target. It is almost like a giant game of shuffleboard that can last up to ten rounds, or as they are called in curling “ends”. The United States team is seeking their first Paralympic Curling medal, and will be competing against 11 other countries.
The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team has medaled in four of the last five Paralympic games and on March 8th they will return to action in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The team is made up of 17 players from all over the United States who were introduced earlier this month during the outdoor NHL Winter Classic game featuring the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers. They will be led by returning captain Josh Pauls and alternate captains, Declan Farmer and Nikko Landeros. After winning a gold medal at the last Paralympic games, the United States team are favorites to win in 2018.
It has become tradition that the last player selected in the NFL draft jokingly earns the title of “Mr Irrelevant”, and in 2008 David Vobora earned this recognition while being selected 252nd to the then St Louis Rams. After spending five seasons playing professional football, David founded a gym to help train potential NFL athletes. In January of 2014 he met retired US Army Staff Sergeant Brian Aft, and both of their lives were changed forever.
On a January day almost four years ago, David noticed Brian travelling by wheelchair in downtown Dallas. He felt as if they needed to meet, so David stopped and introduced himself to the US Army Veteran. After finding out that he lost all four of his limbs to an IED while in Afghanistan, David invited Brian to come train at his gym. For the next three months Brian came every day and the two men worked on creating a workout plan for amputees and individuals with physical disabilities. This friendship caused David to change his life plan and just months later he founded the Adaptive Training Foundation.
Today, the Adaptive Training Foundation (ATF) has grown into the elite facility for paralyzed athletes. They offer two different training programs that are completely free thanks to generous donations. The REDEFINE program is designed to help improve quality of life and independence. They also provide free temporary housing for anyone that joins from outside of the Dallas area. Their REIGNITE program is a bit more intense, as they work with athletes preparing for competition. ATF has trained competitors for events such as the Paralympics, Warrior and Invictus Games.
Later this year the Adaptive Training Foundation will move into a gym that is almost four times the size of their current facility. REDEFINE Program Director Hunter Clark is very excited to be able to expand upon their mission.
“The new facility will allow us to expand upon the number of accepted athletes in each nine week program” Hunter stated, “We look forward to eventually expanding this program Nationwide”. Hunter explained, “There is nowhere else offering this type of intense, detailed oriented and very specific training program”.
It is safe to say that since the time he was drafted to the NFL, David Vobora has gone on to become everything but irrelevant!
To learn more about their program or how to get involved, please visit www.adaptivetrainingfoundation.org or check out the video below:
On Saturday evening, the 3rd annual Invictus Games held their closing ceremony, and several members of the United States team will be returning home from Toronto as champions. The week long event gained worldwide media attention thanks to appearances from current First Lady Melania Trump and former President Barrack Obama. 90 participants from the United States competed in both individual and team events, with many of them bringing back medals!
One of the most impressive performances at the Invictus Games came from United States Marine Corp Veteran and mother Sarah Rudder, who won five gold medals! Rudder won four medals in track and field events, and added a fifth gold with a team win in the one-minute rowing competition. She also won a silver medal in the four minute rowing contest, and a bronze medal as a member of the sitting volleyball team.
For the United State’s men, several individuals won multiple medals. Josh Lindstorm took gold and silver in archery events, and also won a bronze medal as part of the US golf team. Nathaniel Hamilton picked up a gold and silver medal in swimming events, while Brant Ireland earned a bronze and silver medal in cycling.
The final medal of the weekend was at stake when the United States wheelchair basketball team took on the Netherlands. The United States cruised past Denmark in the semi-finals with a 42-17 victory, but met a very determined and talented Netherlands team in the final. In front of a packed gymnasium, the United States was able to secure a 55-51 victory and yet another gold medal!
The 2018 Invictus Games are scheduled to take place in Sydney, Australia from October 20-27. Next year, ABC will broadcast several events and the ceremonies of the 2018 Invictus Games nationally. Don’t miss a moment!
Congratulations to all of the athletes who competed in this years events, and a special thanks to the organizers and volunteers who made the games possible!