It’s the last week of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, and it has been an exciting time so far. If the ending of the Olympics feels bittersweet, don’t worry, the Winter Paralympic Games are right around the corner. The opening ceremony is March 7th, but before the games begin, we wanted to introduce you to some American Paralympic athletes that are sure to inspire you with their drive and determination not to give up on their dreams.
Alpine Skiing: Heath Calhoun & Stephanie Jallen
The big name in this sport is Heath Calhoun, a veteran who lost his legs in Iraq. He began training with a Paralympic Military program in 2006 and competed in the 2010 Paralympic Games in Vancouver. He continues to be an advocate for the Wounded Warrior Project and provides counseling to soldiers who are wounded.
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Stephanie Jallen was born with a rare disease where the left half of her body did not fully develop. At age nine, she attended a school that specialized in teaching kids with physical limitations how to ski. Stephanie just celebrated her eighteenth birthday on February 13, and will be heading off to Sochi to compete in her first trip to the Paralympics.
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Biathlon: Andy Soule
Andy Soule lost both his legs in Afghanistan from an improvised explosive device. Andy was never a big skier, but in 2005 he picked up the sport, and just two years later he took second place at the U.S. Championships. Andy was the first American to win a medal for the Biathlon when he took home the bronze in the Vancouver Paralympics.
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Snowboarding: Amy Purdy
Growing up, Amy Purdy loved to ski and snowboard, but at the young age of 19, she was diagnosed with meningitis which led to her losing her legs. While devastating, Amy refused to give up on her passion. Within one year of walking on leg prosthetics, she was already snowboarding. Today, Amy is a spokesperson for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and co-founded Adaptive Action Sports, an organization which helps athletes with physical disabilities.
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There are a plethora of other Paralympic events and even more inspiring athlete stories. Which athlete will you be cheering on in the upcoming games?