Jul 26, 2016

U.S. Army Veterans to Compete in Powerlifting Events at Rocky Mountain State Games

For Immediate Release

Blind U.S. Army Veterans to Compete in Powerlifting at Rocky Mountain State Games

Colorado Springs, Colo. (July 26, 2016) – The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) is sending three powerlifters to compete in the 15th Annual Rocky Mountain State Games; Charles King (Philadelphia, Penn.), local athlete, Thomas Monroe (Pueblo, Colo.) and Dan Finan (Omaha, Neb.).

King, a post-Vietnam war veteran who was honorably discharged from the Army for health reasons has overcome depression, homelessness and cancer since losing his sight to hereditary acute glaucoma. King competed in his first powerlifting competition at 60 years old in 2010 and has competed in multiple international competitions since, including the 2012 International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) World Championships held in Orlando, Fla. where he set a world record in the deadlift.

Monroe served in the Medical Service Corps with the U.S. Army, active duty from 1972 to 1975 and on reserve from 1975 to 1981. He experienced vision loss as a result of detached retinas and cataracts and has competed for USABA since 2009. This weekend, Monroe will compete in all three lifts in the 120+ kg weight class.

Finan, who sustained a detached retina to his right eye due to head trauma at three years old, represented the United States at last year’s International Blind Sports Association World Championships in South Korea and boasts personal records of a 408 lb. squat, 336 lb. bench press and 435 lb. deadlift. However, Finan will focus on the bench press event at the Rocky Mountain State Games this weekend.

“We’re very proud to partner with Colorado Springs Sports Corp on the Rocky Mountain State Games each year,” said USABA Executive Director, Mark Lucas. “The event gives our athletes an opportunity to compete against peers and challenge their level of skill.”

Powerlifting events will take place at the National Strength & Conditioning Association (1885 Bob Johnson Dr.) on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 9:00am. King, Monroe and Finan will compete Sunday.

For media requests, contact Courtney Patterson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 407-496-2183.

Update: Nick Gasaway (Wichita, Kan.) was previously listed as a USABA powerlifter competing in this weekend's competition. He has since decided not to compete.

Jul 18, 2016

Accessible Technology Empowers Blind Americans to Get Moving

Amanda Weldon, Marketing & Events Coordinator – United States Association of Blind Athletes
Courtney Patterson, Marketing & Public Relations Manager – United States Association of Blind Athletes

As children, we are introduced to sport and physical activity through physical education curriculums in grade school. We learn leadership and teamwork, and gain self-esteem and confidence through participation in sports. We experience the thrill of victory and the heartbreak of defeat which fuels a competitive spirit in those of us that go on to compete at a higher level. But children who are blind and visually impaired are often excluded from these formative opportunities, setting them up for unhealthy lifestyle habits that follow them into adulthood. These children have become part of the more than 11 million Americans who are blind and visually impaired that do not participate in any physical activity. But the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) and Anthem Foundation are on a mission to change that.

Since 2011, USABA has partnered with Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem Inc., to promote the benefits of physical activity and provide agencies serving the blind across the nation with resources to empower blind Americans to raise their physical activity to levels recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Together, they created the USABA-Anthem National Fitness Challenge, an initiative that provides sports and physical activity opportunities at the local level for youth and adults who are blind and visually impaired across the U.S.

In the fourth iteration of the USABA-Anthem National Fitness Challenge, grant funding from Anthem Foundation enabled USABA and partnering agencies to provide multi-sport camps, weekly sports programming, nutrition experts, in-home strength and conditioning exercise tips, and equipment to aid participants in accomplishing their goals. Partnering agencies also hosted Paralympic Days where participants and members of the community could try news sports and meet Paralympic athletes. The Paralympic Days inspired National Fitness Challenge participants and introduced local communities to adaptive sport.

Though we know the positive impacts of exercise - improved energy levels, lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety - lack of knowledge and opportunity can hinder the motivation necessary to seek out opportunity for physical activity through adaptive sport. Through the National Fitness Challenge, USABA and Anthem Foundation provide a safe and encouraging environment to participate in physical activities and develop skills in sports like track & field, tandem cycling and goalball, a team sport for blind and visually impaired athletes.

To encourage social interaction, a sense of community, and friendly competition, participants received Fitbits. The wearable technology also tracked their progress by counting number of steps taken, calories burned and miles reached each day. Nearly 400 participants averaged 224 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, far surpassing the CDC-recommended 150 minutes per week. This was a result of USABA and its 12 partnering agencies coordinating and facilitating activities in sports like tandem cycling, rowing and ice skating throughout the duration of the 2015-2016 National Fitness Challenge.

Partnering agencies included:
Ability360 (Phoenix, Arizona)
• Association of Blind Athletes of Colorado (Denver, Colorado)
Cincinnati Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Cleveland Sight Center (Cleveland, Ohio)
Delta Gamma Center (St. Louis, Missouri)
Georgia Blind Sports Association (Atlanta, Georgia)
Independence Place Kentucky (Lexington, Kentucky)
Junior Blind of America (Los Angeles, California)
Lighthouse for the Blind (San Francisco, California)
Sacramento Society for the Blind (Sacramento, California)
Texas School for the Blind (Austin, Texas)
Turnstone Center (Fort Wayne, Indiana)

Jackie Bumba, a participant at the Cleveland Sight Center in Ohio, tried multiple sports for the first time during the National Fitness Challenge, including ice skating. “Even though I fell a couple of times, it felt good to try something new. I wouldn’t have done that had it not been for the motivation to hit my daily step goal with my Fitbit.”

Grant funding from Anthem Foundation also helped partnering agencies build the necessary infrastructure so the programs and initiatives could continue long after the conclusion of the National Fitness Challenge. At the end of the 2015-2016 National Fitness Challenge, a total of 373 million steps were taken and 170,000 miles were recorded – but that’s just the beginning.

“Since we began the National Fitness Challenge with Anthem Foundation in 2011, USABA has seen many participants persevere and succeed after adopting healthier lifestyles,” said Mark Lucas, USABA’s executive director. “The National Fitness Challenge participants hold themselves accountable to staying active daily, making healthy eating choices and getting outside their comfort zone to try new activities and sports after the conclusion of the program.”

Bumba is one of many participants that continue to use their Fitbits after the conclusion of the National Fitness Challenge. “The Fitbit helps remind me that I need to do more. I now take the long way around the building, use the stairs, do laps around the building on my lunch break and take my dog for longer walks.”

Partner agencies like Turnstone Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, will continue their sport programming to encourage long-term participation in physical activity and support healthy lifestyle changes. Turnstone hosted weekly goalball practices and formed two teams to compete in the USABA Goalball National Championships where the Turnstone Flyers women’s team took bronze.

The National Fitness Challenge is just one way USABA is changing lives through sport and physical activity. Our mission extends beyond grassroots initiatives like the National Fitness Challenge by offering sports programming for blinded military veterans, clinics for multiple sport instruction, and by providing support for elite athletes’ pursuit to compete in the Paralympic Games.












The U.S. Men's National Goalball Team poses with participants at Independence Place after a goalball clinic in Lexington, Kentucky.

Paralympian Greg Dewall ('08) teaches youth at the Sacramento Society for the Blind the art of judo.













Volunteer Amanda Weldon instructs a participant on how to hold a kayak paddle before they get on the water at a sports day hosted by Georgia Blind Sports in Atlanta.

Jun 24, 2016

Groundbreaking for Goalball Resident Program

June 24, 2016 - Fort Wayne, IN

The United States Association of Blind Athletes and Turnstone broke ground this morning on permanent housing for the U.S. Men’s Goalball Resident Program in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The project will include two houses with six bedrooms each that will be used for six resident athletes and visiting athletes from around the world.

Established last October, the U.S. Men’s Goalball Resident Program allows six athletes and a resident coach to train full-time and live together – something Team USA counterparts like Lithuania and Brazil have had for some time. This is the first time a resident program has been established in the U.S. for the sport of goalball. Currently, the resident athletes reside in housing at IPFW and ride to Turnstone each day.

“Housing at Turnstone will allow athletes to focus more intently on training and will also allow us to host teams from across the U.S. and across the world at Turnstone’s top-rate facility,” said Mark Lucas, USABA executive director.

The project is fully funded by private donations, and is a collaborative venture supported by USABA, The Gibney Family Foundation, Lions Clubs International Foundation, Indiana State Lions Clubs and Turnstone.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place at 10:00am across from the Plassman Athletic Center at Turnstone where the building will start next month. Mike Mushett, Turnstone CEO, opened the ceremony by giving an overview of the project. “Site preparations are scheduled to start in mid-July with occupancy around September 1.”

Mark Lucas thanked Michael Kinder and Sons, O’Neal Excavating, Adventure Homes, Premier Builders and Engineering Resource for their assistance on the project, as well as the Turnstone Board of Directors for their vision, commitment and support in making the Goalball Resident Housing Project a reality. He also thanked Ron Plassman for his support of the Plassman Athletic Center and being an integral part of establishing the U.S. Men’s Resident Program in Fort Wayne, and Past President of the International Association of Lions Clubs, Wayne Madden for supporting the project with grant funding.

Alicia McConnell and Katie Baker from the United States Olympic Committee were also in attendance as were members of the Indiana Lions Club and Past Director of the International Association of Lions Clubs, Dave Fiandt.

Three of the six current resident athletes will travel to Rio in September to represent Team USA at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.












USABA Executive Director, Mark Lucas, addresses the crowd in front of Turnstone's Plassman Athletic Center.


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