Dec 16, 2011

Georgia Firebolts and VIP Sports Claim 2011 USABA National High School Goalball Championship Titles

- James Crozier, Tournament Director

Twenty-Four teams from all corners of the United States recently converged at the campus of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (St. Augustine, FL), to compete for 2011 USABA  National High School Goalball Championship titles.   The tournament proved to be action-packed, with an entire tournament roster filled with  high-level, highly competitive teams.  With many close games and games going into overtime during quarter-final, semi-final, and final tournament rounds, the competition was exciting for the fans, and the athletes involved had experiences they will never forget.

On the girl's side, the defending 2010 national champion Georgia Firebolts proved to be the class of the field, cruising through the entire tournament to reclaim the national championship crown for a second consecutive year.  Led by girls’ tournament MVP, Amanda Dennis, the Georgia Firebolts frustrated teams with their outstanding defense, allowing only 3 goals during the entire tournament.   

On the boy’s side, the path to the gold medal was a much closer affair.  With close games during quarter-final and semi-final rounds, the gold medal game between VIP Sports and Pennsylvania would not be decided during regulation play, but, instead had to go to sudden-death overtime.  On the second throw of the overtime period, VIP Sports right-winger, and boys’ side tournament MVP, Dustin Vargo, put a shot in the left corner of the goal to score the game winner and capture the gold medal and 2011 National Championship.

VIP - 2011 Boy's ChampionsGeorgia Firebolts - 2011 Girl's Champions







In addition to gold, silver, and bronze medals being awarded, first and second place teams also received trophies.  In addition to medal awards, the tournament also named an All-Tournament Team, Tournament MVPs, and team sportsmanship awards.  Below are the tournament results:


1st Place –VIP Sports
2nd Place – Pennsylvania Wolfpack
3rd Place - Arizona

1st Place – Georgia Firebolts
2nd Place – Utah Rage
3rd Place – California (Junior Blind)

All-Tournament Team:

Dustin Vargo – MVP (VIP)
Callahan Young (VIP)
Preston Radke (Pennsylvania)
Nathan Purcell (Washington)
Jahron  Black (Pennsylvania)
Jernigan Nezisosie (Arizona)

Amanda Dennis – MVP (Georgia) 
Marybai Huking (Utah)   
Kassandra Hernandez (Georgia)  
Paula Ward (Utah)   
Kayla Collins (Florida)   
Alexia Streudle (California)

Sportsmanship Award:


South Carolina  

Nov 21, 2011

Athletes to Compete in 2011 California International Marathon

Military Service Members and Veterans Included in Competition

November 23, 2011

(Colorado Springs, Colorado)- In partnership with the Sacramento Running Association, the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) is pleased to host the 3rd Annual USABA National Marathon Championship which will be held in conjunction with the California International Marathon (CIM) on December 4, 2011.  Joining the field of 18 visually impaired competitors this year are Aaron Scheidies (Seattle, WA) and Amy McDonaugh (Irmo, SC).  Aaron is a professional triathlete and is considered the fastest physically challenged triathlete in the world.  Amy is the fastest visually impaired American woman running competitively at the marathon distance and is expected to lead this year’s field of visually impaired athletes.

"The California Marathon is an outstanding opportunity for athletes who are blind and visually impaired to showcase their abilities," said Mark Lucas, USABA Executive Director.

USABA has also entered 4 relay teams into the event including two teams consisting of five Veterans with eye injuries: Lawrence Hooper (Houston, TX), Chess Johnson (Port Orchard, WA) Stephanie Timmer (Naperville, IL), Tom Monroe (Pueblo, CO) and Richard Hunter (Folsom, CA).  “USABA is honored to provide our Veterans the opportunity to experience how sport can lead to a more active lifestyle despite their vision loss,” said USABA Military Sports Program Coordinator, Rich Cardillo.

USABA would also like to thank Dr. Michael Shermer for his continued support of this event and runners who are blind and visually impaired.  This year's national championships is sponsored in part by Dr. Michael Schermer, VSP and the California Academy of Eye Physicians & Surgeons. 

Contact; Rich Cardillo; Military Sports Program Coordinator
Office: 719-866-3221; Cell: 719-650-2234; .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


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

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