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Jon McCullough, former Paralympic athlete and leader in the disability movement, comes aboard as BlazeSports America’s new Executive Director today. “It’s the perfect match,” said Daniel Holland, chairman of BlazeSports Board of Directors. “Blaze Sports and Jon McCullough have shared the same mission and worked for the same goals for 17 years.”
With a new executive director at the helm, BlazeSports America is reaffirming its vision to broaden opportunities for children, adults and veterans with physical disabilities to participate in healthful and life-enriching athletics and sports.
Established in 1993, BlazeSports is the legacy organization of the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games. McCullough was a participant in those games, playing defense on the U.S. soccer team. He was a starter for Team USA for 12 years, which included the Paralympics in Greece and the 1998 World All-Star Game as well as ParaPan American Games competitions in Chile and Brazil. He mixed competition with leadership roles starting in 1999. Increasing his involvement in international sport, McCullough served as vice chair on the United States Olympic Committee’s Athlete Council, chairman of U.S. Soccer’s Athlete Council and on the board of directors for U.S. Soccer.
In addition, McCullough was chosen by his peers to be an Athlete Coordinator for the 2002 Paralympics in Salt Lake City, the 2005 Innsbruck Winter World University Games, the 2006 Torino Winter Olympic Games and the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. With the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, McCullough developed a conflict resolution program first implemented in the former Yugoslavia with youth from different sides in the war there. The soccer games, which had former foes working together on the same teams, were broadcast on national television and featured in the World Bank film, Transcending Sport.
In South Africa for the 2010 World Cup, McCullough was a facilitator and keynote speaker for the Man-Up Summit, a week-long gathering of 150 international delegates seeking to develop domestic initiatives to halt violence against women and girls, using sport and music as tools. While in South Africa, he was a facilitator and keynote speaker for FIFA’s youth initiative, Football for Hope. Before joining BlazeSports, he was also deputy director for Man-Up.
McCullough has an undergraduate degree in international health from The American University in Washington, D.C., and certified in International Sports Leadership as part of the first Leadership Summit of the International Paralympic Committee. “I initially encountered BlazeSports in Atlanta in 1996, and I was impressed from the start to the success of their programs today in engaging young people and veterans with disabilities,” said McCullough, who is a disabled veteran himself. “From swimming, soccer, basketball and track-and-field for kids to the Roosevelt Games for veterans, from international partnership programs in Haiti and Jordan to leadership training and capacity–building training in the U.S., everything I’ve seen is first class. Becoming a part of this organization fulfills a dream.”