Pic courtesy of Juan of Words.
Readers of the BlazeSports Blog,
After a Christmas trip back to Atlanta, I’m back in the New Year’s Capital of the World, New York City. Before I venture out into the night to ring in 2012, I wanted to remind anyone out there who hasn’t had a chance to donate to BlazeSports this holiday season to please do so before the clock strikes midnight. This is an organization that I am proud to work for and proud to donate to. I’ve seen first hand as donations–yours, mine, ours–are transformed into action on the ground. We opened a permanent office in Haiti this year to offer our services to one of the most notoriously underserved countries in the world. We developed a groundbreaking curriculum for the certification of disability sport professionals with CDSS. We released How Haitians Play Basketball, the latest title in our children’s book series penned, ahem, by yours truly. We are helping people in Georgia, across the country, and around the world.
Money donated to BlazeSports is money well spent. So before the calendar turns over to 2012, please consider donating online. Only money donated by midnight can be counted in our year end totals, and the higher these totals, the better positioned we are to continue our work in the new year. Remember, you are an integral partner in the BlazeSports operation. You make our work possible.
Happy New Year’s everybody! We’ve got much in store for 2012, and I can’t wait to keep you up dated here on the BlazeSports Blog.
Yours in Manhattan,
Rosemary “Rory” Morrison and Jeff Levick.
Oh, the pomp and circumstance of our friends across the pond! Every year, the British crown bestows membership in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, an order of chivalry that recognizes the lives and achievements of remarkable Britons.
This year, two disability sport activists from Hampshire were offered membership into the order (a status known as an MBE). Rosemary “Rory” Morrison, 73, earned her stripes for her work in disabled sailing. In nine years as a sailing captain at New Forest and District Sailability in 2002, she has trained more than 80 volunteers to help bring Britons with disabilities to the high seas. “I was shocked,” she told the BBC. “I really didn’t believe it for a very long time. It’s like a fairy story.”
Jeff Levick, 74, has been working in the disability cricket scene for over a decade. Of his efforts with cricketers with disabilities, Levick says, “They really are the same as everyone else and deserve every opportunity they can get.”
Congrats to both of Mrs. Morrison and Mr. Levick! Your contributions are much appreciated, even on this side of the Atlantic!
Pic courtesy of The Pine Journal.
There’s something special going on in the snowy north country of Cloquet, Minnesota. A 16-year-old wrestler is suiting up and rocking his competition. The catch? Jordan Baker was born with one leg and just five fully-developed fingers. This hasn’t prevented him from mixing it up with able-bodied opponents since his kindergarten days.
Like national NCAA wrestling champion and fellow amputee Anthony Robles, Baker has compensated for his missing leg by developing immense upper body strength. He is also one of his team’s fastest wrestlers. “Doing walls, sprints, runs, whatever, he’s definitely always in the top five,” a teammate told The Pine Journal. “It’s crazy. He’s such a hard worker.” It also sounds as though he’s something of a joker:
In addition to his hard work ethic, [wrestling coach Al] Denman said Baker is quite the comedian as well, laughing when describing his always-positive attitude towards life.
“If there is laughter on the bus, Jordan is usually my first suspect,” Denman said. “He’s always in the middle of it. He’s a very fun kid.”
“You never get any sleep on the bus,” added [teammate] Nelson with a chuckle.
The success of young amputee wrestlers is one of the most exciting disability sports trends of 2011. Here’s to hoping athletes like Baker and Robles keep it rolling into 2012!
With Christmas done, Hanukkah ongoing, and New Year’s approaching, we are truly in the midst of the holiday season. It’s been a banner year here at BlazeSports. With developments on the state, national, and international front, we have established us as a multifaceted force to be reckoned with.
Our sustained innovation and success, however, is not conjured from thin air. They require dedication, knowledge, creativity, and, yes, money. BlazeSports manages to run a dynamic global and domestic operation with a cost-effectiveness that is nearly unheard of in the industry, but we still need your help to keep pushing forward. If you have not yet had the chance to offer your holiday gift to BlazeSports America, I ask that you please do so before the year’s end. Only funds gathered before the end of 2011 will be counted toward our annual totals, and the larger these sums, the more money we have on-hand to continue changing lives and the more competitive we will be as we apply for grants in the upcoming year.
I know that the holidays can be an expensive time, but BlazeSports depends on you. Together, we are building a better future for youth and adults with disabilities. With your help, 2012 can bring a better tomorrow for literally for thousands who depend on us and on your generousity.
To donate to BlazeSports online, click here.
The UK charity Scope released some troubling statistics recently. According to their findings, less than a quarter of Britons with disabilities are excited for the 2012 Paralympics in London, and 65% think the Games should be merged with the Olympics. Perhaps even more striking, 22% of those polled felt “patronised” by the Paralympics. This suggests that we in the disability sports movement still have a ways to go on the messaging front.
So I’m thankful for the rousing defense of the Paralympics given by Channel 4. An excerpt:
There is an irony that disabled people who feel patronised by the Paralympics are putting their focus on what Paralympians don’t do, rather than what they can do – this generally being the number one bugbear of most disabled people the world over.
Paralympians capitalise on whatever they’ve got (or haven’t got) to get ahead – just as ruthlessly as any other successful person would, disabled or otherwise – when faced with competitors who are willing to sweat, bleed and vomit, day in, day out, in order to beat them. So rather than patronising, I’d be more inclined to describe them as admirably intimidating – but then having said all that, intimidation probably isn’t the core purpose of Paralympic sport either.
The convoluted classification systems, the inter-team rivalries and the fascinating people that dedicate their lives to winning gold – that’s what makes Paralympic sport so compelling – and for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Channel 4 Television is committed to showcasing these intricacies and eccentricities in a way that’s never been done before. Perhaps the Paralympians should all down tools and take up piano lessons or astrophysics degrees à la Wonder and Hawking – but it seems to me like such a waste when they can offer so much hardcore sporting action instead.
Can I sign on? Also worth checking out is this response from a Paralympic medalist. After defending the Games on the grounds that categories like weight class and gender have long been used to classify athletes, the author writes:
For this reason, the Paralympics as an event cannot be patronizing. What can be patronizing, however, is the way the Paralympics are represented in popular culture. Just as the lack of popularity of women’s sport is less a reflection on women’s sport and more a reflection on our culture’s beliefs about women, the Paralympic movement reveals society’s attitude towards people with disabilities. This attitude is often highly patronizing.
Given my tendency to sleep in on weekends, I seldom get the chance to watch CBS News Sunday Morning on, um, Sunday morning. But thanks to the magic of DVR technology, my (over)sleeping habits don’t prevent me from enjoying the latest from Charles Osgood, Bill Geist, and the rest of the crew.
My DVR did me a solid this weekend; I got to check out their segment on Justin Hines, a Canadian pop sensation and chair user. Hines has the voice of an angel, and Larsen Syndrome, a joint condition that requires him to use a power chair. Justin has released four albums in the past five years, including his latest, Days to Recall, which is already on the best seller charts in Canada and will be released in the US on Christmas Day.
Justin has also experienced some big success in South Aftrica, where his song “Say What You Will” hit number one and was featured in a campaign to build schools. Check out the CBS segment to see Justin visit South Africa (and rappel down a 30-some story building!).
An encouraging article reflecting the impact of regular physical activity and sound nutrition from THE NEW YORK TIMES (December 16, 2011). BlazeSports supports obesity reduction in NYC through a grant funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Click on link below for full story:
New York Times – Schoolchildren and Obesity