Each year, thanks to the generosity of the I C You Foundation and Arthur & Helen Copeland, USABA offers scholarships to members who exhibit exceptional drive in athletic achievement and educational endeavors. We are proud to present the I C You Foundation Valor Achievement Award to Charles “Chaz” Davis (Grafton, Mass.) and the Arthur E. & Helen Copeland scholarship to Vanessa Coleman (Lakeland, Fla.).
Charles “Chaz” Davis (Grafton, Mass.) lost his vision suddenly to Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON) at 19 years old. He was a freshman at the University of Hartford. “I thought my life as I knew it was over,” Davis told USABA. One of his biggest concerns was would he ever be able to run again. “I’d spent my high school years running,” said Davis. “Cross country, track, community races, fundraising runs. I loved the freedom, competition and stress relief running provided me.” He gained weight and dealt with some depression following the diagnosis. When he stepped out and tried running again, he aimed for running at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. He qualified for the Games at Trials in the summer of 2016 and competed in the 1500m and 5000m races in Rio. That winter, Davis won the USABA Marathon National Championships at the California International Marathon and set a new American record. He moved to Denver in 2017 to attend the Colorado Center for the Blind and will begin pursuing a Master’s degree in social work beginning this September at the University of Denver. “My long-term goal is to help others with similar challenges find meaning through their own passions, in the process, getting their life back.” Davis is the recipient of this year’s I C You Foundation Valor Achievement Award Scholarship.
Vanessa Coleman (Lakeland, Fla.) began losing her sight at 9 years old due to Stargardts (or Juvenile Macular Degeneration). Coleman began playing goalball at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind (FSDB) where she competed with the girls’ goalball team for six years. During that time, Coleman was awarded a spot on the All-American team five years in a row and was named Most Valuable Player at the 2016 Youth National Tournament. She was also recently awarded Athlete of the Year by FSDB and St. Johns County/St. Augustine. Coleman represented the U.S. at the IBSA Youth Goalball World Championships this summer in Budapest. “Goalball is not just a sport or recreational activity to me,” Coleman told USABA. “Goalball is a way to express myself and a career I’d like to pursue. Goalball has taught me how to communicate with others, stay focused and the true meaning of commitment.” This Fall, Coleman will be attending SUNY Broome Community College where she will begin courses in their Early Childhood program. She aspires to be a teacher of the visually impaired and coach goalball after graduating. Coleman is receiving this year’s Arthur & Helen Copeland Scholarship.
Congratulations to this year’s USABA scholarship winners! We’re proud of their accomplishments and excited to be part of their athletic and academic journeys.
To learn more about USABA scholarship opportunities, click here.