Nick Newell, courtesy of Mega 97.9.
On Friday, the ferocious mixed martial artist Nick Newell finished off Denis Hernandez with a sharp heel-hook, bringing his MMA record to a perfect 6-0. This followed an illustrious high school wrestling career where Newell won 153 matches. And he did all of it without a left forearm or hand.
“My goal is to prove that people with disabilities can go out and win,” Newell told MMAFighting.com in 2009. “It’s more of a message I’d like to send, that if you have a goal, go out and do it. Try it, whether it’s fighting or something else. Whether you want to be the best at your job, or at sports, just do your best. Give it everything you have. Winning is very important to me, but at the end of the day, even if I lose, as long as I know I gave it everything I had, there’s no shame in that.”
Well, Nick hasn’t lost yet. His goal is to earn his way into the UFC’s Octagon, the biggest stage in MMA. While the BlazeSports Clubs iare unlikely to offer mixed martial arts programming anytime soon, we wish Nick the best of luck!
Zach Anner, courtesy of the NY Times.
Tonight on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) at 8pm Eastern Time, Zach Anner makes his debut as the host of “Rollin’ with Zach.” Zach won the opportunity to host this show on a reality program that aired earlier this year, and if you take a look at his audition video, you’ll see that he is absolutely hilarious.
Zach has cerebral palsy, or, as he calls it, “the sexiest of the palsies.” By the looks of the NY Times article about “Rollin’ with Zach,” the show doesn’t try to skirt around his disability; instead, it deals with the issue head on, addressing how his muscles spasm when he gets nervous before a stand up gig and the perils of waterskiing in a sit-ski. As we’ve discussed before, there are shockingly few television characters with disabilities, and even fewer actors with disabilities getting decent roles. This makes Zach’s success all the more important. So be sure to tune in tonight. I definitely will. And not just to support an up-and-coming star with a disability, but for his genuine comedic chops. “A lot of people come up to me and they say, ‘Zach, I feel really bad for you because you’re in a wheelchair,’ ” the Times quotes him as saying. “They shouldn’t. I don’t think that people understand how comfortable sitting is.”
Matthew Sapolin – the 9 year Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities in New York City – a strong advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities recently passed away. The following links provides details of Mr. Sapolin’s impact.
Jason Gradyan teaching a PE class. Pic courtesy of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
A mere two weeks before his graduation from UNLV, Jason Gradyan fell 40 feet during a hike in the Nevada wilderness. The fall damaged his spinal cord, leaving him with limited use of his legs. After two years of teaching standard middle school PE courses, Gradyan found his calling. He tells the Las Vegas Review Journal:
“Through working with children with disabilities at that school as a regular teacher, I decided I wanted to be an adapted P.E. teacher because I really enjoyed working with that demographic.
“I just had really good coaches and teachers in high school. They taught me great skills. A lot of things I learned about life, I learned in P.E. growing up.
If I would have been hurt as a 6-year-old kid, I would have needed some help in the beginning.”
Gradyan is one of 61 adapted PE teachers in Clark County School District, the district that contains Las Vegas. Clark County, like BlazeSports, is involved in the CDC’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work program. We both share a commitment to making healthy lifestyles for all Americans.
BlazeSports is proud of the work Jason and others are doing to spread adapted PE throughout the country. We have some great testimonials about the benefits of adapted PE on our website. Check them out here!
The US News & World Report is known for its renowned (and occasionally controversial) college rankings. I remember my own days as a high school senior and how that thick annual college issue was treated with the awe of a holy book. Well, today the USNWR website made a move toward inclusivity by running an article that offers advice for college applicants with disabilities. It’s great to see them step up and pay attention to a demographic that makes up an estimated 5.9% of all students in higher education.
The article cites what looks to be a forthcoming must read, College Success for Students With Physical Disabilities, and makes the regrettable claim that only five schools in the country are equipped for a student with a serious disability to live on campus. These Forward-Thinking Five are:
- Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
- University of California–Berkeley
- University of Houston
- University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign
- Wright State University
The article is well worth reading for any prospective student with a disability. Some the advice (“Prepare Early”) may come a little late for current applicants who have deadlines looming, but there is definitely enough meat in the piece to warrant a look.