Playing to Win

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By Tonja Randolph
Tonja Randolph

It's been eight years since I wrote my first Viewpoint article for The O&P EDGE's Advance Preview Issue. The date was April 2002, and the cover featured the U.S. Paralympic Alpine ski team at the 2002 Paralympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. A lot has changed since then, but the cover of this issue and the article highlighted in the Sports section is once again about a very exciting Paralympic Games.

According to Charlie Huebner, Chief of Paralympics at the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), in 2004 the United States became one of only four national Olympic committees to include the Paralympics in its mission statement and incorporate the Paralympic Movement within the nation's Olympic Movement. In 2008, the USOC began to work in cooperation with community sports and recreation groups to develop community adaptive sports clubs under the Paralympic name and logo, creating a pipeline for developing elite Paralympic athletes and giving thousands of people across the country access to training, equipment, and inspiration in adaptive sports. Since 2008—in just a year and a half—the USOC has developed Paralympic sport clubs in 114 U.S. communities. The USOC's goal is to have clubs in 250 communities by 2012.

Many other groups support the Paralympics as well, including corporations, community groups, and NGOs. For example, according to the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), CAF supported 45 percent of the athletes on Team USA 2010 through grants for equipment, training, or competition fees. While adaptive sport doesn't get a lot of mainstream media play, there isn't a shortage of support. Since 2001, the U.S. Paralympic budget has increased from $1.8 million to $12.4 million. Forty-four National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) entered athletes at the 2010 Winter Paralympics. This is an increase of five from the 39 represented at the 2006 Winter Paralympics.

International Happenings

I'm pleased to let you know that The O&P EDGE staff will be attending and exhibiting at the premier combined meeting of the 13th World Congress of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) and ORTHOPÄDIE + REHA-TECHNIK 2010. I have had the pleasure of attending the ISPO World Congress in 1998 and in 2001, and ORTHOPÄDIE + REHA-TECHNIK in 2000. Both meetings hold a special place in my heart. It is incredible to be a part of the O&P world outside of the United States. I witnessed the coming together of many different cultures and peoples who all have the same mission—to serve the market that serves people with disabilities. If you're going to Leipzig too, please stop by our booth in Halle 1, #C-24, and say hi. Enjoy the wonderful history that Leipzig offers during your stay, and support the many vendors there making an international presence. The latest high-tech innovations are sure to be displayed.

Cheers,
Tonja Randolph