Visually impared athletes display abilities at Cabrini

By Ryan Mulloy
April 3, 2003

Lauren Joseph

Some feel that to play sports, it takes talent and heart to succeed. Professional athletes use their talents to accomplish their dreams each season, at times, pushing their bodies to the limit. On March 30, a special group of these athletes came to showcase their talents in the Dixon Center. The major difference between athletes and these kids is simple. These children are blind.

The rain was pouring down outside as student volunteers and children alike walked into the gym. With their accompanying parents, the children sat on the bleachers waiting for the day’s activities to start. Leslie Danehy, associate athletic director, helped organize the event with the Pennsylvania Association for Blind Athletes, a group that is dedicated to the upbringing of these visually impaired children.

The day’s activities included several sports and workouts for the children, all giving them a chance to round out their athletic abilities. The kids were spilt up into several groups and would move throughout the Dixon Center with “around 30 volunteers,” according to Danehy.

Located in the gym itself, kids began their dribbling and dunking skills at a lowered basketball net. One boy, who asked volunteers to call him “G-Money,” began a challenge with volunteers to play one-on-one on a higher net. Across the gym floor, volunteers tapped the basketball glass so the athletes could hear the backboard. Two children, Rosemary and Matt, both succeeded in their shots, earning them rounds of applause as they excitedly jumped up and down.

In the squash courts, tennis coach Reggie Day showed the athletes how to play tennis. First he held a larger ball and tested their swings and aim, followed by a chance at the real game. The activity began with Day dropping tennis balls as the athletes listened for the sounds of the bounce before swinging their rackets. Parents clapped and cheered from behind the glass and from above the courts as the athletes continued to impress onlookers.

Up the stairs, in the weight room, they used weight machines, treadmills, bikes and the row machine. Twelve year old Matt, saying he weight around 80 pounds, managed to lift 150 pounds, almost twice his body weight, while 8 year old Anthony worked on the rowing machine. Anthony father watched over him the entire day and talked about his vision impairment, saying how it is hardly a setback. “Anthony does everything,” he said. “He’s got brothers and sisters who he does things with, whether it’s skateboarding or surfing. He even wrestles.”

While in the aerobics room, the kids practiced tumbling and soccer with larger balls. Volunteers lined up several of the balls while young Rosemary kicked with all of her might to waiting volunteers. While practicing tumbling and rolling, one of the youngsters even managed to puts his legs behind his head and walk on his hands.

At the conclusion of the day, the youngsters jumped into the pool with their volunteers, swimming laps and playing games with each other. Once they were finished their swim, they left the Dixon Center and went out into the falling March snow. The children left with their parents, driving home to remember their activities. Though they could not see the day they experienced, the smiles on their faces showed that it was something they would never forget.

Posted to the web by Lauren Joseph

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Ryan Mulloy

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