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2024 USABA Sport Ambassadors

The USABA Sport Ambassador Program is entering its third year in spreading awareness and visibility of sports for the blind and visually impaired community, assisting in USABA representation through outreach and partnership opportunities, and supporting fundraising efforts to continue to expand sport programming. This year’s 20 sport ambassadors were selected following an application and review process with the final roster consisting of athletes in the sports of goalball, blind soccer, track and field, swimming, beep baseball, biathlon and triathlon, along with two sighted guides and a sighted blind soccer goalkeeper. Among the ambassadors are eight Paralympians with 12 Paralympic medals on their resumes.


USABA Sport Ambassadors represent a wide array of sports, experiences and accolades. If you or your organization is interested in hosting an ambassador to teach, coach, speak or participate at your event, please contact Bill Kellick at

Meet the 2024 USABA Sport Ambassadors…

Noah Beckman

HOMETOWN: Columbus Ohio

Noah works as a national bank examiner for the US Treasury Department. He has enjoyed participating in sports throughout his entire life and is currently a member of the USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team. In addition to blind soccer, Noah participates in goalball, beep baseball, and blind hockey. 

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “Sports have not only helped me develop physical skills and abilities, but they have also played a pivotal role in shaping my confidence, resilience and sense of belonging. By serving as an ambassador I hope to inspire and empower individuals within the blind community to discover their own potential through sport, raise awareness of blind sports among the sighted population, and motivate all individuals to contribute to USABA so that it can most effectively serve as many blind athletes as possible.”

Ricardo Castaneda

HOMETOWN: Fort Worth, Texas

Ricardo’s sports adventure started at the age of 7, playing little league American football with his cousin as his partner in crime. Soon after running the ball up and down the field a few times, they began to kick a soccer ball just for fun. Ricardo began to find that he could not play soccer due to the ball’s speed making it look as if it was a fly or blur in the air, so he began to compromise by just running the ball, blocking a player, or even just playing before the game with teammates. He was soon pulled from all sports due to an accident in an indoor soccer field before the game. As his vision deteriorated Ricardo began to find help with the Texas School For The Blind which not only gave him the knowledge to navigate the world but showed him sports and physical fitness in a whole new light, from starting with goalball courts to the sparring mats of wrestling and judo, and now to blind soccer.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “As a USABA Sport Ambassador, my goal is to expand the reach of sports for the blind, especially by introducing blind soccer to new audiences. Personally, sports for the blind have been life-changing, providing not just physical activity and competition but also teaching me resilience, teamwork and personal growth. Through my ambassadorship, I hope to inspire others with visual impairments to embrace the transformative power of sports, showing them that they can overcome any obstacle and achieve success both on and off the field.”

Charles Catherine

HOMETOWN: Brooklyn, New York

A native of France, Charles is a former elite blind triathlete who is now captain of the USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team. A 2012 graduate of Sciences Po Bordeaux, France, Charles holds a master’s degree in international relations, and works as the director of corporate and government relations for the National Organization on Disability (NOD). He is also a classical pianist, a husband and the happy father of two beautiful girls.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “Running helped be tremendously when I lost my sight, not just to stay fit, but to make amazing friends and regain my confidence. I never thought that I would be able to play soccer again, so when I found out about blind soccer, it became my passion right away. I hope that through this work with USABA, I’ll be able to encourage other people with disabilities to be active, try new sports and enjoy life fully, but also, and perhaps more importantly, show to society that they shouldn’t have low expectations of people with disabilities.”

Mindy Cook

HOMETOWN: Columbus, Ohio

A silver medalist in goalball at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Mindy is a current member of the USA Goalball Women’s National Team. With seven years of experience, her favorite position on the court is center. Off the court, Mindy is a full-time contracting officer and has a weakness for anything ice cream or flavored with pumpkin spice.

IN HER OWN WORDS: “Goalball has played an impactful role in my life. Through goalball, I’ve discovered a supportive community of friends and found the confidence and leadership skills I never knew I possessed. Goalball taught me that I can thrive in team sports with a visual impairment. As a USABA Sports Ambassador, I hope to achieve greater awareness of the blind sports USABA offers and provide outreach to youth athletes.”

Ashley Eisenmenger

HOMETOWN: Chicago, Illinois

Ashley is a Chicago-based para triathlete and runner. As a result of premature birth, Ashley was left with significant vision loss and has been legally blind all of her life. Ashley has run multiple 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons. In 2016, she ran a marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon. In addition to her marathon debut in 2016, Ashley was named the paratriathlon national champion. She also holds two second place finishes and two third place finishes at nationals, an individual collegiate national title, and two team collegiate national titles. Ashley coaches both para and nondisabled athletes at a variety of skill levels and works to create and foster opportunity for athletes with disabilities within sport – attempting to break down barriers to entry and access within the sport so that all who wish to are able to enjoy movement on their own terms.

IN HER OWN WORDS: “Sports for the blind have helped me find connection and community. Some of my best friends became my friends through competition and/or guiding. I attribute a lot of who I am to the things I’ve learned and the people I’ve met from sports for the blind. I hope that through my time as a USABA Sport Ambassador I’m able to help bring more people into the blind sports community so that they can meet people and find connection in similar ways that I have.”

Lex Gillette

HOMETOWN: Raleigh, North Carolina

Lex is the best totally blind long and triple jumper in the history of the U.S. Paralympic movement. He is the current world record holder in the long jump, a five-time Paralympic medalist, a four-time long jump world champion and an 18-time national champion. He is the only totally blind athlete to ever eclipse the 22-foot barrier in the long jump. 

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “USABA is the sole organization that played a major role in me gaining my start in the Paralympics. I can remember raising funds to attend my first USABA national championships and I’ve participated in multiple USABA-sponsored sports education camps. Those opportunities gave me the chance to participate in sports alongside other athletes who were blind and visually impaired, helped to sharpen my athletic skills and ultimately helped me gain the confidence I would need to become a multi-time Paralympic medalist. At this juncture in my career, it is my goal to pass along everything that I’ve learned to the athletes coming after me. I’d also like to bring more awareness to USABA and help the organization continue building on the success that’s currently illuminating through its teams and programs.”

A headshot photo of Lex Gillette wearing a blue Nike jacket with an American flag on the chest

McClain Hermes

HOMETOWN: Gainesville, Georgia

At the age of 4, McClain dove into the pool and instantly felt at home. After she completed her first season of competitive swimming she told her parents that she would go to the Olympics. Not only did she say that she was going to go to the Olympics, but she wanted to win a gold medal. One day, with no warnings, McClain went blind. The first question she asked her mom when she went blind was if she would still be able to swim, and that was when they learned about the Paralympics. After healing from her eye surgeries, McClain was able to get back in the pool and quickly switched her sights from competing in the Olympics to becoming a Paralympic champion. At the age of 15, McClain made one dream come true. She competed in the 2016 Paralympic Games. She was the youngest athlete on all of Team USA and shocked everyone when she made the finals for the 100 backstroke and finished 8th in the world. In 2017, McClain became the world champion in the 400 freestyle as well as winning two silver medals and two bronze medals. She represented Team USA at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, competing in four events: the 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 200 IM, and 400 freestyle. She finished 6th in the world in the 400 freestyle. After her success in Tokyo at the Paralympic Games, McClain decided to try her hand at a new sport and transitioned from Para swimming to Paratriathlon. Her goal is to compete in the 2024 and 2028 Paralympic Games as a triathlete. 

IN HER OWN WORDS: “Swimming is my love and my passion but I also have a deep passion for public speaking. I enjoy speaking about my story and my journey. My journey of going blind and then becoming a Paralympic swimmer. I want to educate people about the Paralympics and what I can do even if I am perceived as ‘disabled’ I believe that I am ‘enabled’. I want to show other kids that even if I am different and have to do things a little differently, that I can still accomplish and do everything that they do. I want to show other blind kids and adults that we can do whatever we want even if people tell us we cannot do something because we are blind. To me the Paralympic movement means sharing how truly strong we all are in our own ways and the ways that we can overcome obstacles in the face of adversity. Through my public speaking I will be able to share what the Paralympics mean and spread the message that we can all say ‘I’m possible’. Through the USABA Ambassador Program I hope to show those around me that you can always ‘Just Keep Swimming.’”

Je’Von Hutchison

HOMETOWN: Boynton Beach, Florida

Je’Von competes in track & field, specializing in the 400 & 800 meters. He won a bronze medal in the 600 meters at the 2015 USA Track & Field Indoor Championships. While attending Hampton University, Je’Von won the 400 meter indoor title at the MEAC Conference Championship. He lowered his indoor school record 400 meter time his senior year and qualified for the NCAA Championship in the 400 and 4×400 meter relay. He would go on to reach the semifinal round of the USA Outdoor Championship in 2014.

In His Own Words: “Entering my second year as a USABA Sport Ambassador, I remain dedicated to shedding light on the significance of adaptive sports for individuals with visual impairments. My passion for sports and fitness has always been a driving force, leading me to excel in track and field. As an alumnus of Hampton University, where I earned degrees in business administration, I’ve developed a strategic mindset to complement my athletic pursuits. Serving as a guide runner for the visually impaired community has provided me with a unique perspective on the transformative power of blind sports. My mission is clear: to raise awareness about the life-changing opportunities these sports offer while inspiring others to pursue their dreams. Through advocacy for inclusivity and breaking stereotypes, I aim to empower individuals with visual impairments to achieve their full potential. With each stride on the track, I’m fueled by determination, hard work, and perseverance, using my platform to make a positive impact and drive change.”

Mark Ivy

HOMETOWN: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mark attended the University of Central Oklahoma and now serves as the financial development & adaptive sports manager at NewView Oklahoma. Despite losing his eyesight, he remains active in adaptive sports, participating in goalball and beep baseball. In 2023, Mark was selected to the 2023 National Beep Baseball Association All-Star Team. He resides in Oklahoma City with his wife, Alyssa, and their five-year-old daughter, Evelyn June. Mark loves the Dallas Cowboys and making people laugh. 

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “Blind sports has and continues to impact my life for the better – physically and mentally. I hope to reach blind folks who are looking to get active and be a part of a team.”

Christian King

HOMETOWN: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Christian King is a member of the USA Goalball Men’s National Team and has been playing goalball since 2015. He was born in Powhatan, Virginia, and attended the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind (VSDB). It was there that he learned about goalball as well as other adaptive sports. Once Christian found goalball he realized it was something he wanted to play at its highest level. His hard work and dedication paid off when he was afforded the opportunity to train in the USA Goalball Resident Program in 2021. Christian’s first international tournament with Team USA was in February of 2022. Since then, he has been working hard every day to pursue his dream of competing in the Paralympic Games.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “Without goalball I probably would not be playing any sports today. It is because of goalball that I am able to compete at the highest level possible in the sport that I love. I am hoping to be an advocate for the sport of goalball and to find a way to connect goalball to other blind sports communities. I want to meet new people and share experiences with them that can help me to understand and ultimately better the community of blind athletes we have.”

Kyle Knott

HOMETOWN: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Kyle joins USABA as a Sport Ambassador for the first time in 2024. He was introduced to blind sports while working at the Rock Hill (S.C.) Velodrome in 2012 when Davian Robinson asked him to pilot a tandem to teach him how to ride the track. He went on to win National Championships with Davian Robinson and Chester Triplett on the track and road as a tandem pilot. Knott and Triplett represented the United States at the 2016 UCI Paracycling Track World Championships. Through his involvement with cycling and blind soccer, Kyle has been an advocate for blind sports for over a decade.

In His Own Words: “Blind sports have been a big part of my life since 2012. Being a sighted person in soccer and cycling, I have been able to create lifelong friendships with teammates and continue to participate at a high level in sports that have been a lifelong passion of mine. During my time as an ambassador I plan to work with local schools and soccer teams to introduce blind soccer in Colorado Springs. Through this networking I hope to increase our fanbase and talent pool for the USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team. In addition to those events, I look forward to fundraising to support USABA programs and mentoring new athletes.”

John Kusku

HOMETOWN: Commerce Township, Michigan

John is a math and physics teacher at the Oakland Schools Technical Campus Southwest in Wixom, Michigan. He teaches high school juniors and seniors from several different school districts in Southwest Oakland County. He is legally blind due to a degenerative hereditary eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa. He earned his master’s degree in mathematics in 2009 from Western Michigan University. John’s 10-year-old son, George, is in fifth grade and John’s wife, Jessica, is a teacher of children who are blind or visually impaired. John is a Paralympic silver medalist in the sport of goalball. He has worked in many mentoring roles for young people who are blind or visually impaired as well as their parents and teachers. He has played many blind sports such as hockey and marathon running and is becoming an experienced cross country skier and biathlete.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “As a youngster I loved playing sports, but as I got older and lost more vision I could not play as hard as I wanted to play. When I attended the Sports Education Camp for blind and visually impaired kids at Western Michigan University I fell in love with goalball. I found a sport I could really compete in and a group of blind and visually impaired people to learn and grow with. I would love for every blind or visually impaired person to find a way to be competitive and find other blind and visually impaired people to bond with.”

Eliana Mason

HOMETOWN: Beaverton, Oregon

Eliana is a two-time Paralympian and two-time Paralympic medalist, winning a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and a silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics where she was the second-highest goal scorer on the U.S. team with 10 goals in seven games, good for eighth-best in the entire tournament. She has also participated in two Goalball World Championships (2014, 2018) winning gold in 2014. Eliana serves as the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Advisory Council representative to the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes’ board of directors.

IN HER OWN WORDS: “Growing up I always loved competing and partaking in competitive sports. My vision loss made it difficult to keep up with my sighted peers and compete at a level I wanted. I always found myself having to work through visual barriers, which took away from my experience of the sport, along with my ability to partake in it. Finding goalball was life-changing for me, because it was the first time ever I was on an equal playing field with my peers, and could simply be an athlete first. My vision was no longer part of the equation, and this was a very freeing and empowering feeling for me. I was able to focus on the sport, play at a high level and not have to compensate for vision loss. Having an equal playing field is incredibly important and made me fall in love with the game. Additionally, through goalball, I met other incredible athletes who were role models and mentors to me. I had a positive representation of vision loss for the first time in my life, and I learned to find confidence as a blind person. Goalball is one of the only blind sports played on a team, and it allowed me to be a part of a team. A lot of blind-friendly sports like swimming, running, rowing and biking are often solo sports. To find a team sport where my vision wasn’t a barrier motivated and empowered me to follow my athletic dreams.”

Tyler Merren

HOMETOWN: Greenville, Michigan

Tyler is a four-time Paralympic athlete with the USA Goalball Men’s Team, motivational speaker, personal trainer and owner of ReVision Training LLC. Born in Michigan with an eye condition known as retinitis pigmentosa. Despite his visual challenges he grew up with a love for sports and activities which transferred into his baccalaureate in exercise science and career as a personal trainer and elite athlete. His wife Leanne, who is also blind, and he, have four children and currently live in Greenville, Michigan, where Tyler is working for Camp Tuhsmeheta, an outdoor adventure camp for blind students, running his business, developing the ReVision Fitness audio fitness program, homeschooling his children, training for the USA Goalball Team, and being the best husband and father he can be. Tyler believes that his family, faith, and sport were the three pillars that helped him learn the keys to success of hard work, perseverance, and humility, and sees adaptive sports as a crucial element in the lives of blind youth and adults.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “Sport taught me the power of discipline, teamwork, and perseverance and through the Sport Ambassador Program, I am looking to support all blind athletes who are seeking to better their lives through sport and fitness.”

Cheyenne Meyer

HOMETOWN: McKinney, Texas

Cheyenne is an endurance athlete and signing guide for athletes who are blind, low vision or deafblind. After a traumatic bike accident in 2016, she came back to sport with a passion for helping others reach their own finish lines. Since 2016, Cheyenne has had the privilege of guiding athletes in races from 5k runs to Ironman triathlons, and at state and national championship races for cycling and paratriathlon. She began learning American Sign Language (ASL) in 2017 to become a better guide for athletes who are deafblind. Outside of racing, Cheyenne helps host clinics to train runners to become guides and volunteers at Camp Abilities and DeafBlind Camp of Texas. 

IN HER OWN WORDS: “Getting involved with the blind community has been one of the greatest blessings of my life and has become one of the most important. Serving as a guide has helped me make so many lifelong friends, see incredible places, create unforgettable memories and learn the importance of accessibility and inclusion. As a USABA Sport Ambassador, I hope to continue promoting the great things USABA is doing for the blind community. I want to help athletes who are blind find happiness and discover their potential through sports, as well as encourage new guides and volunteers to get involved. I’d also like to promote accessibility and inclusion in sports and social media.”

Jasmine Murrell

HOMETOWN: Plainfield, New Jersey

Jasmine was born with congenital glaucoma.  For the better part of her life, as a result of her visual difficulties, she poured everything she had into her education. Jasmine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling. It wasn’t until 2014 that she was introduced to adaptive sports and it forever changed her life. Jasmine was presented with an opportunity to challenge herself, test her abilities, and explore facets of herself that she didn’t get to pursue while in high school or college. She became a multi-sport athlete, competing in beep baseball, goalball and running (track & endurance events). In 2019, Jasmine represented the United States at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru, an amazing experience that elevated her sports aspirations and left her wanting more. Following the return to activities after the COVID-19 pandemic, blind soccer and rowing have been added to her list. Currently, Jasmine’s main sports are running (track & endurance events) and rowing. She hopes to be able to compete on the world’s largest stage, the Paralympics, in the near future. In addition to being an athlete, Jasmine is a model and soon-to-be student (going back to college to get her doctorate degree). 

IN HER OWN WORDS: “Sports play a critical role in our society and it’s only natural to want to be able to have the same experiences as our counterparts. Because of my disability, I felt like I was at a disadvantage to my peers growing up; opportunities to engage in sports and/or physical activities were limited for safety purposes. It was not until I was an adult that I learned about adaptive sports and had the chance to get involved. Blind sports have had a positive impact on my life ever since! These sports promote inclusion, whether a recreational athlete or an elite athlete, it brings together people with similar backgrounds. For me, outside of my family, I did not know many individuals who had the same interests as me, therefore, my involvement allowed me to interact with like-minded individuals. Along with movement and being active, socialization is another area of importance. These components all contribute to an individual’s quality of life and people with disabilities are more likely to fall short in these areas. One reason for this is a lack of knowledge. As a sport ambassador, I will work to spread awareness. Not everyone has the same upbringing or resources; I will use outreach to teach communities about blindness and adaptive sports.”

Kevin Orcel

HOMETOWN: Elizabeth, New Jersey

Born in Haiti with glaucoma, Kevin relocated to the U.S. seeking better medical care. At the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind he discovered a passion for adaptive sports, particularly goalball. Throughout high school, Kevin excelled as an All-American goalball player and varsity wrestler. Pursuing higher education at Florida International University, he earned a bachelor’s in communications & marketing while competing for the South Florida Crossfire goalball team. Graduating in 2018 with a masters in sports management, Kevin has since contributed his expertise to organizations like the New Jersey Devils and the Devils Youth Foundation. Alongside his professional endeavors, Kevin remains active in sports, participating in marathons and triathlons while representing the New Jersey Thunder goalball team. 

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “Goalball and adaptive sports have given me the opportunity to live an active lifestyle, experience new environment, push myself to be better, and connect with individuals who you know understands your challenges. As a USABA and Google Ambassador, I hope to not only use this opportunity to increase awareness for adaptive sports and assistive technology, but provide other individuals with disabilities to push for greatness and equal access to sponsorship and other resources for all athletes with a disability.”

Emma Papariella

HOMETOWN: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Emma is a junior at Slippery Rock University majoring in special education transition programming with minors in adapted physical activity and recreational therapy. Being physically active and participating in sports has always been important to her and a big part of her life. Shortly after being adopted, Emma started doing gymnastics because it was something she didn’t need too much vision for. She also played basketball in third grade for her school. Emma wanted to do more sports but finding a sport that she could participate in safely and be able to keep up with her peers was hard due to her visual impairment. The summer before her 7th-grade year changed Emma’s life forever. She attended a local sports camp for the BVI community called Envision Blind Sports. At this camp, Emma met other kids who were just like her and were facing similar challenges. She also found the world of blind sports and adapted sports which taught her there was a whole other world out there. Emma continued to attend any Envision events possible and started playing blind ice hockey in high school. Growing up, Emma and her dad watched hockey together and finding a way that she could successfully play hockey brought so much joy for both of them. She also fell in love with downhill skiing which is something and has had the opportunity to participate in many clinics for goalball and blind soccer.

IN HER OWN WORDS: “Blind sports have opened my world and given me so many opportunities to challenge myself, put myself out there, and share my passion with others. As a USABA Sports Ambassador, I want to give other individuals who are blind or visually impaired the same experiences I have been so lucky to have. I want to help educate and advocate for the world of adaptive sports and get as many people involved as possible because everyone deserves the chance to be physically active and be a part of a team no matter their disability. I hope to spread the world of blind sports through sharing my experiences, teaching others at clinics, and connecting with anyone who wants to be involved in blind sports whether they’re an athlete, guide/coach, or supporter. I can’t wait to meet you at a practice, clinic, tournament, or wherever our paths may cross!”   

Matt Simpson

HOMETOWN: Smyrna, Georgia

Matt is a two-time Paralympian and 2016 silver medalist. He is a 2020 graduate from the University of Virginia School of Law and is currently serving as a law clerk to a federal judge. Born with a congenital retina disease that left him with severely impaired vision from an early age, Matt became active in sports and was introduced to goalball at a USABA sports education camp in 1999. He is married and a proud father to three young  children.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “When I was a 10-year-old kid picking up a goalball for the first time I never could have imagined all that the sport, which I immediately loved, would do in my life. It’s taken me around the world and let me perform on the biggest stage possible for a disabled athlete. But more than that, it’s helped shape me in every facet of life. I would never have learned how to compete in this tough world, where our disabilities are so often an impediment, had I not gotten the chance to learn how to compete in the only arena where my disability matters not at all. I’ve loved representing Team USA for the past thirteen years, but more than that I’ve loved getting to help grow our sport and teach young kids about their potential as kids who, like me, just happen to be blind. I am excited to continue to represent Team USA and USABA as a sport ambassador to help demonstrate the abilities of people who are blind.”

Calahan Young

HOMETOWN: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Calahan hails from Pittsburgh, Pa., and has been playing goalball for over 17 years. He has been a member of the USA Men’s National Goalball Team since 2017 and graduated from George Mason University with a master’s in healthcare administration. In addition, Calahan serves on the USABA board of directors as an athlete representative, also serving on the audit and finance committee. 

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “Sports have played a pivotal role in shaping my identity and aspirations. Growing up in a family that embraced every sport imaginable, I eagerly participated in baseball, basketball, track and field, and football. This early exposure provided me with a solid foundation for team sports and instilled in me a relentless drive to compete and collaborate with others. However, it was the discovery of adaptive sports that truly transformed my life. Embarking on journeys across the country and around the world, I forged meaningful connections with individuals from diverse backgrounds, fostering a sense of camaraderie that transcended borders. Engaging in adaptive sports not only broadened my horizons but also significantly bolstered my confidence, a key factor that propelled me to pursue and achieve both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. As a USABA Sport Ambassador, I am eager to leverage this platform to become an advocate and role model for the next generation of blind athletes. By sharing my personal journey, I aim to illustrate the profound impact of being active and involved in such a vibrant community. Moreover, I aspire to provide insights into the arduous path leading up to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, shedding light on the rigorous strength and conditioning regimens, the relentless grind of practices and competitions, and the unparalleled experience of participating in the Paralympics. Through this role, I hope to inspire others to overcome obstacles, pursue their dreams, and contribute to the ongoing legacy of adaptive sports.”