On a bright early morning, supporters and Paralympians filled tables Nov. 1 at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center for an annual Breakfast With Champions, raising $25,000 for Association of Blind Athletes programs.
Thanking sponsors and donors, USABA Executive Director Mark Lucas said the special red, white and blue mornings are “a constant recognition of the Paralympic athletes.” It was also a perfect time to describe a new grant to bring the top blind and sight-impaired emerging stars to the training center to experience Paralympic sports toward becoming Junior Elite.
One of the day’s honored top athletes was special presenter Tyler Merren, holder of 67 medals and a three-time goalball Paralympic team member. Early on he had learned, he said, that he couldn’t and wouldn’t let fear of not being sighted determine what he could or couldn’t do in life. “You are your own barrier,” said the world-traveling athlete, married father of four and personal trainer. He delighted guests by shaking a heavy medal that made specific sounds for its color. His was gold, but he had learned, “Being a true champion is not about the color of your medal.”
Paralympic swimming champion and Hall of Famer Beth Scott had been one of the first two resident athletes with disabilities at the training center. She teased guests that she had some public speaking nerves but it couldn’t quite work for her to imagine naked the audience she couldn’t quite see.
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