Annual Conference Starts Tomorrow!

The 11th Annual BlazeSports International Conference on Paralympic Sport and Physical Activity kicks off tomorrow evening in Decatur, Georgia! After getting settled, participants are invited to the Chairman’s Reception at 6pm, and then it’s on to three session-packed days on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. NBA legend Pat Williams will deliver the conference’s keynote speech on Friday night.

Get psyched, everybody. Folks are flying in from all over the globe for what is sure to be an amazing and edifying weekend. For more information, check out the conference web page here.

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Russell Brand Says Something Ignorant, Shocks No One

Walking hairball/”comedian” Russell Brand shocked absolutely no one this weekend by making an idiot crack about Paralympic athletes at a gig in Islington, UK. Inside World Parasport reports:

“I don’t give a [expletive] about the Olympics,” Brand said to the audience.

“It’s boring Blue Peter sport and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“At least the Paralympics have some kind of novelty value or something.”

I could get indignant about this. I could suggest that he try racing Oscar Pistorius, then after he has finished picking Oscar’s dirt out of his teeth, I could ask Mr. Brand “So who’s the novelty act, again?” But we’re dealing with the guy who was canned by MTV for showing up at the studio dressed as Osama bin Laden the day after 9/11 and bringing his drug dealer to work with him. He obviously gets his jollies with pathetic, transparent attempts to rile people up.

If you’re mad, I understand. Brand willfully behaved like a jerk. Me, though? I’m not gonna waste my anger on the hack comic who is best known for his pop star wife and voicing the bunny from Hop.


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Fresh Out of Worlds, Pistorius Praises Virtues of Sport for Youth with Disabilities

Oscar Pistorius, courtesy of Exposay.

After his groundbreaking appearance at the able-bodied track world championships in Daegu, South Korea, double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius spoke at International Paralympic Day in London’s Trafalgar Square. The event sought to educate the British public on Paralympic sport and to stoke enthusiasm for next year’s Games. As perhaps the hottest athlete with disability on the planet right now, Pistorius was a natural fit for the event. Oscar encouraged young people with disabilities to get involved in athletics. “I would say sport is of paramount importance,” he told the Hertfordshire Mercury. “It’s the same as if you wash every day. Every day you need to do sport.” He continues:

“I’m very excited about 2012. … Perceptions are changing very rapidly when it comes to people with disabilities, and I know I’m just one of many athletes that have that are carrying that message across. …

“Next year there will be people from across the world where people in their countries don’t have that knowledge or they don’t offer that accessibility that you see here in London when it comes to disability or they still focus on disabilities and not their abilities.

“And that for me is one of the most exciting things about being here. A lot of perceptions are going to be changed about how people view people with disabilities and how they view Paralympic sport because in my view Paralympic sport’s not just inspiring.”

The full interview is online, and definitely worth a look.

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Blazer Christina Young Named High School All-American

U.S. Paralympics has announced its list of track and field high school all-Americans, and we are thrilled to find that Christina Young of our own Georgia Blazers is one of the honorees! Christina, who attends Cass High School in Bartow County, was recognized as a national superstar in not just one event, but five. The selection committee placed her among the top six high school athletes nationally in the 400m, 800m, 1500m, shot put, and javelin.

Congrats to Christina, and to all the other honored athletes! You can find the complete list here.

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National Organization on Disability Honors Nine Companies

While most of us grilling up some burgers and dogs or hitting the beach for one last summer swim, the National Organization on Disability spent its Labor Day honoring nine companies that have made laudable efforts to employ Americans with disabilities. People with disabilities contend with an unemployment rate much higher than the national average, so it is important to give such companies credit when credit is due. They have recognized the value of a diverse workplace, and are gaining the benefits of an exceptionally capable demographic.

The UPI reports that the nine companies are:

  • Sam’s Club “for convening a consortium of businesses and assisting members in increasing awareness and opportunities for people with disabilities”;
  • JB Hunt, “the first employer to join the consortium to make connections to disability placement agencies for 50 new positions”;
  • Tyson Foods “for training recruiting managers”;
  • Lowe’s for its “long-time commitment to hiring people with disabilities”;
  • Aetna, “which is building a pipeline of candidates with disabilities for open positions”;
  • Sodexo, “which identified 15 sites to recruit candidates with disabilities”;
  • ADP for “identifying and recruiting qualified job candidates with disabilities”;
  • Saint Barnabus Health Care System “for committing to hiring people with disabilities”; and
  • Toys “R” Us “for disability employment efforts in two of their distribution centers.”
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Injured Soldiers Battle Redtape to Collect Payment

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lanier, pic courtesy of the AP.

Like too many injured combat veterans, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lanier occupies an uneasy position between the military and the outside world. After a major back injury sustained in Iraq, he is no longer able to serve in Army. This wasn’t the end of his problems, however. The AP reports:

But he can’t yet accept a civilian job because he doesn’t know when the military will discharge him. He has no clue how much the government will pay him in disability compensation related to his injury, so he can’t make a future budget. He just waits.

The system that keeps Lanier in limbo arose to rectify an even bigger problem. Before 2007, injured soldiers had to go through both a medical board and the Veteran Affairs Department in order to claim any disability payments. In the meantime, many were going broke. Now troops like Lanier can continue to draw their military pay while these claims are processed, but the uncertainty of the new process is still difficult for the personnel and the families that they support. The typical injured soldier is passed back forth between the Defense Department and the VA for more than two years before he or she collects payment and is able to pursue civilian employment.

Injured troops already face a doubly difficult adjustment. They must get used to civilian life and to life with a disability. The new system appears to be an improvement over the old, but given the sacrifices they’ve made, we owe our soldiers better than this two year purgatory.

BlazeSports is  committed to serving veterans with disabilities. We regularly organize events for transitioning soldiers, like last week’s Four-Post Regional Games at Ft. Benning. And our annual conference, to be held September 15-18, will include a special session directly addressing the fitness and athletic needs of vets with disabilities. For more info on these services, feel free to contact us at 404-270-2000.

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