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The Road to the Paralympics

May 2, 2011
My middle son is an 8th grader at the local Junior High School.
He is a three sport athlete who plays football, basketball and runs track for his school.
Sports are nothing new for him as he has played organized athletics from the age of 5.
This does not sound out of the ordinary until you find out that my son lived through a very serious
stroke at the age of 2 that paralyzed him on the right side of his body.  He was hospitalized
for 5 long weeks as he fought for his life in the Pediatric ICU.  My husband and I were in shock
as our baby’s life hung in the balance.
Fast forward 10 years and hours of physical and occupational therapy later, and our amazing son is living a happy life and he has a dream.  He dreams of making the US Paralympic team and
competing in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The Paralympic games run the two
weeks after the Olympic games and are for serious, elite athletes with disabilities from all over the world.
My son has been preparing for the last 9 years.  His first sport was T-ball at the age of 5.
He used the Jim Abbot technique of catching and throwing with one hand and he also bats one
handed.  Next came soccer, basketball and fast pitch.  Then, flag football and soon after, tackle football.  He has played for his local Parks and Recreation teams, AYSO and with the Shelby Lions Football Club.
He has never been a superstar, but he holds his own against his able bodied peers.
Upon entering his Junior High School, he now had to try out for the school teams.  With hard work,
determination and outright skill, he has made both the Football and Basketball teams for two
years running.  This year, he is also running track in order to begin training to be a Paralympian.
My son does everything one handed as the stroke left his right arm and hand completely paralyzed.
He wears a brace on his leg to help him limp less.  He has to work a lot harder than most athletes
to get similar results.  After team practices, you will many times find him back at the gym taking
more shots or organizing a pickup game of hoops.  You will also find him at the track running more,
even as he battles through blisters from breaking in a new leg brace.
Here is Danny on his parks and rec basketball team.  He has been a leader all season.
Here are some highlights from his 8th grade basketball season.  Look for #32 with the leg brace.
On his track team, he competes in the 100m, 800m and Shot Put.  Although, he does not run for points at the meets, his goal is to reach the Paralympic Standards.  The first time out of the gate, he ran a 16.70
in the 100m.  A tenth of a second faster than the Paralympic Junior Standard for Nationals in his disability class!
He will compete in both the Thunder in the Valley Games and The National Junior Disability
Championships this summer.  Both will be held at Saginaw Valley State University.  He will also
test his skill in the Table Tennis Competition.
Since he also excels at racquet sports, he is looking forward to being on his high school’s tennis team in the fall.
My family has been a part of CHASA, the Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association
since Danny’s stroke in April of 1999.  CHASA is a non-profit organization that supports families
living with childhood stroke.  CHASA offers a worldwide online community of over 1500 families,
a national family retreat, scholarships, awareness and also funds pediatric stroke research.  It is through
our affiliation with CHASA, that the we have learned about how to guide our son toward his
Paralympic Dream.
With May being Stroke Awareness Month, we, along with CHASA, are working to create awareness
about childhood stroke and raise money to further this cause.
It is not every day that an athlete gets to bring home a GOLD medal for the US.  With hard work and dedication, we think our son just might have a chance.  Subscribe today to keep up with our son on his road to the Pralympics.
6 Comments leave one →
  1. Cindy permalink
    May 2, 2011 11:21 am

    We’re so proud to know Danny, Patti. He is a joy.

  2. Melanie permalink
    May 2, 2011 10:50 pm

    I beg to differ Patti, Danny *is* a superstar! He is a hero to many mothers and fathers of young hemiplegic children. Best of luck in his endeavors!

  3. May 2, 2011 11:08 pm

    You are sweet, Melanie! OK, I will clarify. He has never received an official MVP award at school and he is usually on the 2nd or 3rd string. He is, however, a consistent leader on his 7-9th grade parks and rec basketball team. Oh, and he did get the game ball once on his club football team for a recovered fumble. I share Danny’s story in hopes that parents of younger children with hemiplegia/stroke will be able to imagine the possibilities for their kids. Thanks so much for reading.

  4. May 4, 2011 2:51 pm

    Good for him. I, too, was athlete in my youth. I played in the united cerebral palsy games.

  5. Patti Scrivano permalink*
    July 18, 2011 1:35 pm

    Update: As the track season progressed, Danny ended up being one of three athletes who competed for points in the Shot Put. He was also asked by his coach to compete in the District-wide Meet of Champions in June. Although Danny never placed in the top three at a meet, his team went on to be undefeated and won the Meet of Champions. Danny’s shot put distance is very close to the Paralympic National Junior Standard for athletes in his disability class.

  6. December 7, 2011 9:07 am

    We are very excited to report that Danny had an excellent season on the JV Tennis team at his school. He was one of 4 freshmen on the team. Danny played 3rd doubles and he and his partner won every match but one this season. Danny and his partner came in 2nd place in Macomb County in the county tournament at the end of the season. It was a great experience and we look forward to three more years of High School tennis!

    Sadly, Danny was not selected for his High School Freshman basketball team this year. Our hearts were crushed. Danny made the top 21, but not the final 15. Of course, as his somewhat biased parents, we believe he is good enough to be on this team. Not only is he good enough, but Danny would bring something extra to this team. His teammates love him. They respect him and admire him. They don’t go easy on him and he competes on equal footing with them. His teammates work harder, complain less and never give up when Danny is on the team. We are encouraging Danny to keep working hard and he will be trying out for the JV next year. We don’t want special treatment for Danny, but we are hopeful that his coaches will see the intangibles that he would bring to this High School program. He is a great basketball player that would make a lot of other teams in the area…his school does have a lot of talented athletes. But Danny brings more than solid basketball skills…he brings a huge love for the game and his school. And most importantly, he brings a lot of HEART. Keep going Danny. ANYTHING is possible!!

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