Nov 09, 2011

WellPoint Foundation Impacting Blind and Visually Impaired Teens Nationwide

18 Agencies Participating in Fitness Challenge

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Thanks to a generous $150,000 grant from the WellPoint Foundation to the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), 18 partnering agencies from across the United States are providing more than 700 blind and visually impaired teenagers with an opportunity to increase their physical fitness levels and begin living a healthy and active lifestyle. The USABA-WellPoint Foundation National Fitness Challenge program is a year-long program that began this summer.

“Our goal is to help each participating teen become more fit and lose weight by using fun and challenging physical activities”, said Mark Lucas, executive director of the United States Association of Blind Athletes. “Each participating agency submits baseline data and monthly updates that are used to create and modify achievable fitness and weight loss goals for the teens to help them decrease their Body Mass Index.”

Research has consistently shown that individuals who participate in regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy levels, a lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, because of the many barriers and misconceptions about their abilities, approximately 70 percent of the nearly 56,000 blind and visually impaired children and youth in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum.

“The WellPoint Foundation is committed to helping children and adults live active lives and avoid the health risks associated with sedentary lifestyles and obesity,” said Mike Walsh, president and general manager of WellPoint’s Specialty Products, which includes dental, vision, workers’ compensation, voluntary, life and disability benefits. “We believe no one should ever be denied the right to enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of exercise, and we are proud to partner with the USABA to ensure that vision impairments do not limit the recreational opportunities afforded to teenagers across the country.”

The 18 agencies participating in the USABA-WellPoint Foundation National Fitness Challenge program include:
• The Braille Institute of Orange County                                         California
• The Braille Institute of Los Angeles                                              California
• LightHouse for the Blind of San Francisco                                     California
• Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind                                   Colorado
• Colorado Center for the Blind                                                      Colorado
• State of Connecticut: Board of Education & Services for the Blind   Connecticut
• Center for the Visually Imapired                                                  Georgia
• Indiana School for the Blind                                                        Indiana
• Kentucky Association of Blind Athletes                                         Kentucky 
• Delta Gamma Center for the Visually Imapired                             Missouri
• Missouri School for the Blind                                                       Missouri
• Inter-Actions in New Hampshire                                                  New Hampshire
• New York Institute for Special Education                                      New York
• Association for Vision Rehabilitation and Employment                   New York
• Lighthouse International                                                            New York
• Cleveland Society for the Blind                                                   Ohio
• Ohio School f/t Blind and Columbus Parks Recreation                   Ohio
• Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped                            Wisconsin

The funds from the WellPoint Foundation grant are used to provide talking pedometers, t-shirts, prizes, fitness and nutrition coaches for teens participating in the program. 

Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has reached more than 100,000 blind individuals. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind. USABA's mission: to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity. For more information go to

About WellPoint Foundation
The WellPoint Foundation is the philanthropic arm of WellPoint, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the inherent commitment of WellPoint, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that WellPoint, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses it’s funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These disease states and medical conditions include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company's annual associate giving campaign and provides a 50 percent match of associates' campaign pledges. To learn more about the WellPoint Foundation, please visit

Sep 30, 2011

Judo Coach Master Walter Dean Inducted into Masters Hall of Fame

Anaheim, CA – Master Walter Dean of Carlsbad, CA, formally from Stuart, FL, was recently inducted into the 2011 Masters Hall of Fame in a formal ceremony held at the Anaheim Convention Center. Dean was presented with the prestigious Platinum Life Time Achievement Award, one of the organization’s highest honors.
Master Dean started his martial arts career over 55 years ago and holds a 9th degree black belt in Judo and a 6th degree black belt in Jujitsu. He is internationally recognized for his work coaching athletes for the Paralympics and other world events. Dean is considered an expert at teaching martial arts to blind students and teaching other coaches these methods. Dean was part of the 1996 and 2000 Paralympics teams and has participated in over 15 World Games. The Paralympics is a premiere Olympic-quality sporting event and is run in parallel with the Olympics every four years. Walter Dean also spent many years working with the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) of Colorado Springs, CO, a leader in sports for the visually impaired. He was head judo coach and member of the Board of Directors.
Walter Dean has been selected as the Chief Technical Delegate for the Parapan American Games in Guadalajara Mexico this November, representing the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) Judo Committee. The Parapan American Games is the selection event for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, and athletes selected at this event will qualify for a spot at the Paralympic Games.

Walter lives in Carlsbad with his wife of 41 years, Ginny, who is also a black belt in Judo. Dean is still involved with Judo on an International level and teaches three to four times a week in San Marcos at the San Diego Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Judo Academy.
Dean’s lifetime attraction with Judo came from the desire to help children build confidence, gain self esteem and become more disciplined. Walter is the President of the Pacific Southwest Judo Association, a group that helps black belts and judo clubs in the San Diego area develop excellence.
Master Dean said about this award, “When I looked around the room and saw so many men and women that have given so much more to Martial Arts I was truly humbled.”  For press information about the Masters Hall of Fame, please contact Kamatoy Media Group at 619-573-9456.


Sep 19, 2011

Cyclists Head to Colorado Springs for “Learn To Race” Cycling Camp

Military Service members with eye injuries and physical disabilities included as a part of rehabilitation process

(Colorado Springs, Colorado) – The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), in partnership with U.S. Paralympics, United States Handcycling and Disabled Sports USA is hosting a Developmental Cycling Camp for Riders with Disabilities at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, September, 18-25, 2011.

Twenty camp participants including blind and visually impaired cyclists and their sighted pilots who ride tandem bikes; cyclists with lower mobility impairments who use hand cycles; cyclists with cerebral palsy or head injury who use both standard bikes and amputee cyclists who ride either single bikes or hand cycles will learn advanced bike handling skills and road racing strategies and receive instruction in track riding. 

Among the participants will be military veterans and active duty service members who sustained physical and sensory disabilities as a result of service in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom.  Camp staff will include certified cycling coaches, a certified mechanic and guest speakers from a variety of sports related fields.

The list of participating athletes includes:

Ivonne Mosquera-Schmidt (stoker), Philadelphia, PA
John Schmidt (pilot), Philadelphia, PA
Stan Moore (stoker), Medford, OR
Dan Nelson (pilot), Winnetka CA
Larry Gunter (stoker), Phoenix City, AL (Military)
Greg Hoffman (pilot), Doylestown, PA

Single Bikes:
Ivan Valentin, San Antonio, TX (Military)
Andre Cilliers, Fort Belvoir, VA: (Military)
Lee Nortn, Naples, FL (Military)
Gabriel Monreal, San Antonio, TX (Military)
Loyal Pyczynski, Orlando, FL
Nieves Rodriguez, Temple, Texas

Hand cyclists:
Matthew Robinson, Albuquerque, New Mexico (Military)
Alicia Dana, Putney, VT
Will Groulx, Portland, OR (Military)
Thea Rosa, Cool, CA
Tom Davis, Fremenot, IN (Military)
Tim Connor, Hilliard, Fl (Military)
Todd Nipp, Colorado Springs, CO
Sean Haggard, Denver, CO (Military)

“Our goal is for cyclists to gain the riding knowledge and experience in order for each athlete to return to their respective local communities motivated to set a goal of training to compete for the United States in future regional and national events, including for some cycling at the Paralympic Games", said Cycling Coordinator Pam Fernandes who also is  a Paralympic Gold medalist and World record holder in tandem cycling.

The United States Association of Blind Athletes enhances the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity.

United States Handcycling Federation, Inc. is a non-profit corporation designed to create integrated cycling opportunities for wheelchair users and athletes with lower-mobility impairments:

Disabled Sports USA provides the opportunity for individuals with disabilities to gain confidence and dignity through participation in sports, recreation and related educational programs:

U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, is dedicated to becoming the world leader in the Paralympic sports movement and promoting excellence in the lives of people with physical disabilities.

“This project is supported by U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee.”


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