More than 200 Team USA athletes, including 78 medalists from the 2014 Sochi Games, were celebrated at a red-carpet event at the historic Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., on April 2 for the US Olympic Committee’s inaugural Best of US awards program.
Greg Lazzaroni of Amramp DC is proud to have installed two wheelchair ramps at the reception so all the athletes would be able to meet and mingle during the event. The event organizer said, “The ramps were great, they were using them like crazy. Thanks for a great job!”
U.S. Olympic Committee’s inaugural Best of U.S. awards program drew more than 200 Team USA athletes who competed in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, 78 wearing their 2014 medals.
Wearing her two bronze medals for alpine skiing, Best Female Paralympian and Moment of the Games awards-winner Stephanie Jallen noted the magnitude of the games: “The Paralympics meant everything to me,” Jallen told USA Today. Jallen was born with one leg and one fully developed arm. “I trained for it for nine years. The opportunity alone to race and represent the USA was … I can’t even describe it. And then to be able to medal.”
Paralympic alpine skier Mark Bathum was tapped Best Male Paralympian. The men’s sled hockey team was designated Team of the Games. Skater Jason Brown’s coach and guide Kori Ade was honored with the USG Building Dreams award, according to TeamUSA.org.
Other notable Paralympians
After a motorcycle collision with a drunk driver, then aspiring professional skateboarder Evan Strong lost a leg. A decade later, the Paralympic snowboarding gold medalist said, “I never dreamed about being a Paralympian or winning a Paralympic gold medal. After the accident I wanted to get back to life and to sports again. I love it. I couldn’t live without it.”
Two-time sled hockey Paralympian Greg Shaw commented on NBC broadcasting the gold-medal sled hockey game live: “It’s awesome getting so much coverage for our sport. People recognize me because they saw me on TV.” Joining his teammates to accept their award for Team of the Games, Shaw told TeamUSA.org: “It’s really like a brotherhood.”
Best of U.S. Paralympic Award-Winners
The first-ever awards were selected by fans after the US Olympic Committee nominated Olympians and Paralympians.
Best Female Paralympian: Stephanie Jallen, two bronze medals, alpine skiing
Best Male Paralympian: Mark Bathum, two silver medals, alpine skiing
Best Team/Paralympics: men’s sled hockey, gold medalists
Best Moment/Paralympics: another award for Stephanie Jallen, two bronze medals in alpine skiing
The Paralympic Games bring together athletes with a range of physical and intellectual challenges, including mobility limitations but also blindness, cerebral palsy, and amputations. The Paralympics started as a small gathering of British World War II veterans in 1948 and grew from there; in 2014, 47 nations/committees sent representative athletes to Sochi. “Para” in Greek means “beside” or “alongside,” and the Paralympic Games are held “in parallel” with the Olympic Games. 1988 marked the first year that the Paralympics were automatically held in the same location directly following the Olympic Games, and this agreement has continued through 2014.
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