Anjali's Blog

Character Building

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Character Building.

This is a term of endearment that our coach uses in various forms when we have a particularly difficult training session, race day or the like. It is used to embrace the challenging conditions, perhaps wind, rain, or all of those other things that are out of an athlete’s control. Because, that which does not kill you makes you stronger, or builds character.

That about sums up the weekend! We road tripped on our Midwest Tour 2010, went from Champaign, IL to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa for the Drake Relays and then from there to St. Louis for the Gateway Games and then back to Champaign. What a whirlwind! And then I will tell you what is up next!

Drake Relays

We ran a 1500m at Drake. It was the first time the Drake Relays included Paralympic participants. The crowd was very enthusiastic and welcoming. The times were slower in comparison to last week at Mt. SAC Relays, but the conditions were wet. By the end of the 1500m I had sand and grit in my mouth/teeth and my face was covered in track dirt…character building at it’s finest, especially for this sprinter over here!

I did get to meet up with an old friend, Sentwali Bakari who is the Dean of Students at Drake University. I first met Sentwali back in 2005 at LeaderShape, a week long leadership conference for students. He was one of the staff facilitators. It was wonderful not only to see him, but to hear my name as I raced around the track being yelled by him and his co-workers! Thanks for coming to support us!!

We loaded up the mini-van and headed for St Louis on Saturday. Being on the road with the team is always an adventure. Lots of laughter and good times had by all, even if I was relegated to the backseat of the mini-van. It’s okay because I was still able to have a dance party AND write my dissertation from the backseat.

Sidenote: I used to think I was one who did not work well under pressure, and I believe I have to reconsider that statement. I was quite productive with my writing while in the car because it was a race against the battery life!!

St. Louis

For some, it was an epic adventure just to get there. For us, we skinned by just by a hair. Maybe 2 minutes after arriving at our teammates parent’s house, the tornado sirens and hail started coming down. As we were watching the television, we realized that our two other teammates driving in from Champaign were about to be in the middle of the tornado. I called to warn them of this situation, of course trying to remain calm and collected so as not to worry them too much. And then there was Ian, my brother, who was also meeting us for dinner and just moments after hanging up with him to warn him of the tornado and he said he was leaving the West County Mall, the newscaster said, the tornado just hit the West County Mall. Yikes.

Luckily, everybody arrived safe and sound, eventually. We all crashed at Ian’s house—hung out by the fire, played with his dog Penny and then woke up for another character building day.

The weather was cold and windy. Therefore, times were not as fast as we were hoping. But, it was fun to meet some of the young up and coming athletes and their families. Ian brought a whole slew of co-workers and friends to cheer. Afterwards we went back to Rossi’s house for a pizza party before heading back to Champaign.

cheering squad for anjali

Up Next?

Next on the list is another whirlwind weekend of Kansas and Washington State. I leave again on Thursday for Kansas for an event with The Hartford and for the Mid-America Games, then fly from Kansas to Spokane, Washington on Saturday evening for Bloomsday 12k which takes place on Sunday. So the laundry is in the dryer, and will promptly be re-packed into the bag.

Also interspersed with all this travel and racing is wrapping up this semester, or at least attempting to. I think I have 2 presentations (one that I’m not actually here for…..yikes…), a final paper and some dissertation chapters left… But, the way I look at it is, the semester ends whether you want it to or not!

Mt SAC Relays

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The first track meet of the season was a success!! I raced fast, had fun and soaked up some CA sun! The videos of the 800m and the 1500m are posted under "News". I had some technical difficulties and so I could not actually embed them as "Videos" but they are there!

I ran a personal best in the 800m, 1:55.57. I was quite close to hitting my A standard in the 800m, but successfully hit my B standard. For those of you who don't know, to make a national team there are set standards, an A-level standard and a B-level standard. Basically, you want to hit an A standard because that gives you a higher level of support from USP and positions you better athletically in terms of world class competition. I have to hit standards in the events that I want to potentially run at World Championships, but it's also important to hit standards as part of the qualification to GO to World Championships. If this sounds confusing, it is. And I'm trying to write it in layman's terms too. My 1500m was solid for me, I was very happy with the result too -- 3:55.07! For complete results, click here.

My fellow Illini teammates performed well too. We also had several aspiring Paralympians who were invited to compete. We were an eclectic group, and a very fun one! We had a little bit of everything--folks still in high school, college, vets and former Paralympians. These types of exhibition events are always so fun to see the level of excitement on everybody's faces, to get out on the track for an early season meet, and to educate the greater athletic population about the Paralympic movement. Just watch the videos and listen to the commentators, they were literally blown away, as were many of the other athletes and spectators at the event.

And now, it is approaching midnight, and I have to pull my clothes from the dryer and immediately put them back in the bag to hit the road again tomorrow! We are off to Drake University for the Drake Relays on Friday night (1500m) and then driving to St. Louis for the Gateway Games on Sunday morning. Drive drive drive! And if I'm lucky some dissertation writing in the car as well...or at least some of these final papers. It's this time when the season gets underway that it is hard to convince myself that I am still a student who has to do some work, I get so excited with all this racing and traveling! But, I DO want to graduate, May 2011...

A Week in the Life of Anjali

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I struggled to decide what to name this post. “A week in the life of Anjali” or “How to Get Your Head in the Game When…” Those were the two I was debating. For those of you who want the abbreviated version of my week, read the bullets below. For those who want to know the backstory behind any of the following, feel free to read on.

This week:

  • I found out my mentor, friend and academic advisor is leaving the University in a month.
  • A Japanese beetle flew down my shirt when training and bit me.
  • I found out I passed my General Field Qualifying Exam, the really really big exam in phd school about everything in the field.
  • We got a huge invitation from some top government officials in Kenya to go on a disability outreach trip this summer.
  • I found out my educational kids coloring book is ready to sell!!!!!
  • I got on a plane for my first track meet of the season.

Academia

Academia is always unpredictable. I am so excited that my mentor and advisor will be headed to an incredible new job. But, the unexpected news of his earlier departure than what I had originally thought (January was the original departure date) sure can cause a rollercoaster of emotions and questions. I mean, realistically, how do you take 8-months of PhD school and put it into a month? Yikes. I know now, that it will all be okay. I think the hardest part about all of this has been not the figuring out how I’m going to graduate and do a dissertation with my advisor physically being elsewhere, but the sadness and feeling of loosing a friend. The logistics of graduating are merely logistics, it will work out and luckily he can remain my advisor and still chair my committee. But, I’ve lived through many people coming and going in my life, and no matter how much you say, it’ll be the same, it’ll be fine, it’s just a plane ride away, it does change. Change is not always bad, I know that too. So I’m trying to remain optimistic about this one.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say that this news didn’t come with worry, uncertainty, frustration, sadness, happiness—really a little bit of everything. Thankfully, sports is an incredible outlet for me so I was able to channel most of these emotions into my training. But, channeling negative emotions is kind of like playing with fire. It can be really dangerous.

Our little cohort of advisees have already started weekly gatherings to make the most of our time left. We’ve got a lot of great adventures planned for the summer --- including the second road trip adventure to see Lady Gaga. So, you know, I think we’ll pull through this.

Japanese Beetle

There’s not too much more to say here. Other than, when a bug who bites gets stuck down your shirt, they get very angry. I’ve got the welts to prove it! Ridiculous.

General Field Exam

It hasn’t even hit me yet. The story behind this one goes back a ways. I spent spring break studying for this exam, because I had to write it the Monday we got back, for 4 hours. The most challenging part about preparing for the exam was to remain focused on studying. I had just had a breakthrough on thinking about my dissertation topic and wanted to be spending time thinking and reading up about that, but alas sometimes other things have to take priority. I had to reprioritize school over athletics, something I’ve never been good at doing. I studied really hard, made an insane amount of color-coded flashcards and went in to this monstrous exam.

Exam day. I went through three computers before finding one that did not take 10 minutes to simply open Microsoft Word. The exam began at 9am. The first 10 minutes I was a good little student and spent some time outlining my thoughts. Then, disaster struck. I realized that my brain could not function in the current work conditions. If ANYBODY knows me, you know that I multitask to the extreme. That is just how my brain works. As I write this, I am actually writing 2 other papers, I have 4 .pdf files open that I’m reading too, I’m listening to music, and flying to LA. So you see, the silence, the lack of windows in the room, the lack of visual and auditory distractions…it was painful. I literally spent the next 30 minutes watching the time tick by on the little clock on the computer and having a dialogue in my head with myself about how, well gee if I didn’t at least write SOMETHING then I would fail!! So, after 30 minutes went by, I took a deep breath and did what I know how to do best--- do them both at the same time. I was very scared with this approach, as I wasn’t sure this dinosaur of a computer would be able to handle my jumping from page to page answering the question. Thankfully, it worked. I just filled in what I knew, got my brain fired up and finished with time to look everything over, fix typos and grammar. 4 hours and 14 pages later, I was done. Glazed over and truthfully unsure of my fate, I walked out of the building to go to lunch with friends. You have to have friends in PhD school, it’s a must. And then, the waiting game began.

You typically have to wait anywhere from 2-3 weeks to hear back. That’s a long painful time!! The first couple days you are still in that antsy, anxious stage, and then you reach the point where you can’t put your whole life on hold waiting to hear back, so you just plow through and move on.

I got my exciting news last night, just ten minutes before starting to co-teach our first online class of the term. But, ten minutes was enough time for my roommate to crack open the champagne and have a drink in celebration before I had to teach! After teaching, I decided it was pretty necessary to pack for this trip, so again I moved on to the next one and as I’m here now on the plane I’m beginning to realize that, hey, I passed that exam!!

Disability Outreach

It’s public knowledge that one of my childhood heros was Jean Driscoll. She is an 8-time winner of the Boston Marathon. In third grade, I wrote my biography project about her and wrote a story called, “When I Meet Jean Driscoll”. I even dressed up as the winner of the Boston Marathon for several years on Halloween --- I’ll have to ask if we have pictures of this anywhere.
Anyway, Jean and I have been planning a trip to Ghana this summer to co-teach some track clinics and meet with the Minister of Sport and Minister of Education to discuss sustainable ways of improving the lives of people with disabilities in this country. Incredible, right? It’s one of those opportunities you just don’t say no to. I have yet to figure out how it will all work out logistically, but I trust that it will. Well another Illinois alum, Linda has connections in Kenya and since we’ll already be in Africa… why not go there too? Well it turns out, her connections in Kenya aren’t just small time connections. My dream, my passion, I’m living it. Every moment. Last summer I came back with incredible stories and memories from India, and this year, Ghana and Kenya here I come!

Sidenote: At 26 years old (not quite there yet) I will have been to six of the seven continents. So, my question is who is up for a cruise to Antartica sometime before I turn 30? I mean it just sounds pretty cool to say I’ve been to all 7 continents before I was 30… Think about it, I’m dead serious.

What color will you color me?

Color Learn & Play is ready to launch my coloring book!!! More information coming as soon as I talk to my web designers to figure out how to get all this info up on here ☺ (If you are reading this, ahem, we should chat). The basics are, I have a prototype available electronically that can give a flavor of what the book is all about. If your organization places an order, we can put your company/organization logo right into it and tailor it to your needs. It has activities, word searches and it’s way cool. The catch is: before I can sell orders of smaller quantities, I need to get one big order done first, as in 500-1000. So, PLEASE help me to spread the word. My new PR manager/event planner is working on a launch party idea so stay tuned for more.

LA Here I Come

And, now I’m on the plane. I tried to keep everything relatively in line with how it occurred chronologically to give you a sense of a “week in the life of Anjali”. Somehow, after teaching last night (the voicemails and emails about the Africa trip came in yesterday sometime), I managed to get everything ready to leave. And now, my focus shifts to racing on Saturday in the Mt SAC Relays! I’ll be racing in the 800m at 12:35 pm and the 1500m at 5:27 pm. The event website is: Mt SAC Relays

As far as how to get my head in the game after a week like this, there is no easy answer. A lot of it comes from within. It’s trusting your training, believing in yourself and taking advantage of the downtime to recuperate. I am definitely grateful to all my fans and friends who have been an exceptional support for me. That also helps to get me through. And, truthfully, it’s the serene moments like this --- flying a few thousand feet high, looking out as the sun is just setting, the crescent moon shining brightly, and reflecting on this week realizing that, life is good. Sure there have been some emotional ups and downs this week, but in the grand scheme of things, wow—what a week. If all that can happen in a week, think about the possibilities yet to come!

In the meantime, I think it’s time for me to catch some zzz’s, it’s been quite the week!

Training & Life Updates

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I've been sitting at a coffee shop for the past few hours trying to write my dissertation, and decided since that was not working that I should post an update to my blog here instead. The past couple of weeks have been pretty busy with school for me. It always bothers me when school has to take priority over other things in my life, such as training, but it's a trade off I suppose. I went to a training camp one time and we learned that despite popular belief you can really only ever give 100%. We did this exercise where you first wrote down all the demands that were on you -- training, school, work, family etc. Then you had to allocate your 100% across each of the demands. I know some of you may be thinking, ah but I'm a multitasker (we joke at work about my level of multi-taskingness and my strong inability to single-task). But, the truth is even when you are multitasking, you are realistically only giving a portion of your attention to each of those tasks, it may be more efficient -- such as writing a paper while reading other things you give your brain a break to process your thoughts on writing and keep busy with other things until it's ready to fill in the rest. Anyway, my point here is that sometimes you have to reprioritize in order to get things done. And so, for me these past couple of weeks have truly been about school, because, let's face it, I want to graduate!

However, the way my brain operates, I need to continue training and being active to stay sane. Training is going very well. I feel strong and ready for the season! While we had our first race in February in Tampa, next week is the start of track season!! I will be headed out to Walnut, CA (just outside of LA) for the Mt. Sac Relays. We will be racing on Saturday, April 17 and this sprinter over here will be racing in an 800m and a 1500m! Stay tuned for more!

Vancouver Paralympic Games 2010 News Coverage

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Please support the Paralympic movement and cheer on some of my fellow teammates and friends as they compete in the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games!

The best place to watch the live action is: ParalympicSport.TV
ParalympicSport.TV, the IPC's internet TV channel, will broadcast more than 150 hours from the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games from 12-21 March 2010. All Paralympic sports will be covered in the programming, either live or delayed. This coverage will also be made available as Video on Demand (VOD) after the events on ParalympicSport.TV.

NBC Sports and Universal Sports will provide broadcast coverage of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

Coverage on NBC Sports will include a one-hour program recapping the Opening Ceremony on Saturday, March 13 (1-2 p.m. ET) and a two-hour highlights program on Saturday, April 10 (3-5 p.m. ET).

In addition to the coverage on NBC Sports, Universal Sports will broadcast a nightly two-hour show for nine straight nights dedicated to the daily competition of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games starting on Monday, March 15 at 6 p.m. ET (re-air at 11 p.m. ET) and continuing nightly through Tuesday, March 23.

Additionally, UniversalSports.com will offer on-demand re-airs of the Universal Sports television coverage, plus full-length event "rewinds."

The official site of the U.S. Paralympic Team, usparalympics.org, will also offer daily video and news highlights of the competition from Vancouver. To sign up for a daily email with updates from Team USA please go here.

To Review:

NBC Sports
Opening Ceremony highlights - Saturday, March 13, 1-2 p.m.
Paralympics recap - Saturday, April 10, 3-5 p.m.

Universal Sports
Monday, March 15 - Tuesday March 23, 7 p.m. (re-air at 11 p.m.)

ParalympicSport.TV
LIVE ACTION THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF THE GAMES MARCH 12-21

Vancouver Paralympic Games 2010 News Coverage

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Please support the Paralympic movement and cheer on some of my fellow teammates and friends as they compete in the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games!

The best place to watch the live action is: ParalympicSport.TV
ParalympicSport.TV, the IPC's internet TV channel, will broadcast more than 150 hours from the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games from 12-21 March 2010. All Paralympic sports will be covered in the programming, either live or delayed. This coverage will also be made available as Video on Demand (VOD) after the events on ParalympicSport.TV.

NBC Sports and Universal Sports will provide broadcast coverage of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

Coverage on NBC Sports will include a one-hour program recapping the Opening Ceremony on Saturday, March 13 (1-2 p.m. ET) and a two-hour highlights program on Saturday, April 10 (3-5 p.m. ET).

In addition to the coverage on NBC Sports, Universal Sports will broadcast a nightly two-hour show for nine straight nights dedicated to the daily competition of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games starting on Monday, March 15 at 6 p.m. ET (re-air at 11 p.m. ET) and continuing nightly through Tuesday, March 23.

Additionally, UniversalSports.com will offer on-demand re-airs of the Universal Sports television coverage, plus full-length event "rewinds."

The official site of the U.S. Paralympic Team, usparalympics.org, will also offer daily video and news highlights of the competition from Vancouver. To sign up for a daily email with updates from Team USA please go here.

To Review:

NBC Sports
Opening Ceremony highlights - Saturday, March 13, 1-2 p.m.
Paralympics recap - Saturday, April 10, 3-5 p.m.

Universal Sports
Monday, March 15 - Tuesday March 23, 7 p.m. (re-air at 11 p.m.)

ParalympicSport.TV
LIVE ACTION THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF THE GAMES MARCH 12-21

Gasparilla 15K

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The Gasparilla 15K is growing into quite the event! It is always fun to be at the first race of the season and to see both familiar and new faces. I had a great race, improved my time from last year which is always exciting. I ran a 41:40 and finished 4th!! The rest of my team did very well too: Amanda finished 2nd, Jessie finished 5th, Maggie 7th. On the guys side, Josh finished 5th and Tony was 7th. Way to go Illini! For complete results, click here.

In other news, I recently learned that they have Adaptive Bobsled Team and they are working to make this a Paralympic sport. I mean, what could be better than going down an icy track at 85mph?? There is a training camp, unfortunately, it starts on Tuesday of this week. But they are going to be offering another one in a couple weeks. I'm talking with the current coach to see if we can work something out. If nothing else, it would be pretty sweet to try out. Stay tuned for more crazy adventures from the life of Anjali!

February 2010: Olympic Thoughts & Start of the Season

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Watching the 2010 Vancouver Games has been so incredibly exciting, and at the same time incredibly difficult to watch. Every day I am glued to the television, in class, (yep, I admit it…and for my professors and classmates reading this, what can I say, I’m just being honest), I am glued to the Official Vancouver Website and various live feeds to get up-to-the-second information---isn’t technology wonderful? My roommate and I have a strong opinion, that the Olympics and Paralympics ought to be a vacation for all of us from all work, scholarly duties to simply sit back and support our countries athletes. The exciting parts are the stories of athleticism, watching dreams come true, and the surprises. The people who nobody believed were a contender just go out there and wow the world. Anything is fair game at the Olympics and Paralympics, despite what the best commentators, reporters, coaches, former athletes may predict—anything is possible.

In conversation last week with some colleagues in my doctorate program, we were talking about the differences between who goes all the way and who doesn’t at this level. I mean look at the times… today in the Men’s Super-G, the difference between gold and silver was a mere .28 of a second. But, get this, the difference between second and third, a mere .03, that’s three hundredths of a second. But it gets better, the difference between third and fourth place, .01. One hundredth of a second. Wow. So, what is the difference between these athletes? Athletically, not much. You all approach the starting gate, or starting line or final match with the same approximate level of athletic ability. The differences lie in who is able to remain focused when it counts, who can tread comfortably on the ambiguous line of risk-taking and execution. Who is “in the zone”. And if those results don’t show that, I don’t know what does. Way to go Team USA, and fellow eastcoast skiers!

The difficult part… every day watching the games makes me miss the mountains and ski racing more than ever. Let’s be clear on one thing: I have no regrets in my life. I do not regret walking away from ski racing in 2002 to come to college here in Illinois. It was the best decision for me at that time, for many reasons. But, it was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life. And, secretly, though not so secretly now after this blog, I want to ski race again.

Things to think about.

While I think all that over, however, I am also gearing up for the start of our track and road racing season!!! I am also wicked excited about this. It is around this time in training when I start to get antsy for that first competition, because when you are stuck inside training all winter long, you just get that bug to get outside and to be in the racing environment. I can’t wait! The craziness of traveling, competing, taking classes and dissertationing (that’s a new one for me this year) are here, and I couldn’t be more ready—I thrive living in the edge of chaos.

Next stop: Tampa, FL for the Gasparilla 15k next weekend! Stay tuned for more!

Welcome to 2010

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Well, it has been a while since I have updated my blog. There have been several exciting things happening in my life since attending the Hartford Ski Spectacular. After the event, I came back to Illinois for a few days and wrapped up the toughest, craziest, busiest semester of my life. I am happy to report I successfully completed 5 doctorate courses, my early research project (basically like a masters thesis and oral defense), being a teaching assistant for two courses, training 5-6 days a week and the occasional speaking event and on rare occasions, sleeping. But, the good news is, the end is in sight of my schooling. A very scary thought: approximately 1 year from now I will be done with my doctorate degree.

I then did something nearly unthinkable; unplugged, and checked out of all school and work obligations. I joked with folks about how weird it was to receive my google calendar morning email and to see it say, “you have no events scheduled for today”. Anybody who really knows me understands this was short-lived before I got stir crazy and started looking for adventures. These adventures ranged from impromptu shopping trips with my teammates, family time in Seattle for the holidays to random roadtrip with friends from my department at school to Detroit to see Lady Gaga. Wow, what a show!!

Some people laughed at my randomness and my impulsivity that went into this trip to see Lady Gaga. I admit, it was an impulsive decision and we all sat back after the 5-minutes that it took to decide we were going, the purchasing of the tickets wondering if that just happened. But, why not? When you don’t have a good answer to that question, it’s a good decision. Also, people like Lady Gaga remind us to be our own person, express yourself and to live your dream. I support that 100% and believe in her message, and it was well worth it.

And currently, I am on an airplane headed to Bermuda for the next 6 days to participate in the Bermuda International Race Weekend and to spend time with my friends affiliated with the Windreach Adaptive Sport organization who I met last June. I am so excited for this trip. There are so many exciting things happening in Bermuda as they are building their Paralympic program. The two wheelchair racers have new racing wheelchairs, are working with the Bermuda National Olympic Coach for training and potentially will be coming to the states for some competitions this upcoming season!! I hope they will also make it to Illinois for our track and/or basketball camps too. There is so much potential in all of the athletes down there, the organization and the country itself, I am truly honored to have the opportunity to go back down to work with them. Change is slow, but if there’s anything life has taught me, every little bit DOES help. The positive energy of relationships and combined talent can lead to wondrous things, I can’t wait to see what the next 6 days bring!

Other exciting news includes several potential speaking engagements and trips planned for the next few months. I am going to help my brother run a Paralympic Awareness Day for foster children in the St. Louis Area. I am likely going back to Waterville Valley in March for an event with The Hartford, and possibly some others in the Maryland area with another organization. These are mostly school/outreach visits with kids.

Then, the big exciting news I can’t even believe is here, the launch of the prototype of my coloring book!!!!!! The “official” prototype will be available next week, please let me know if you, your organization or anybody you know is interested in potentially purchasing some and we can work it out. Everything is very flexible and adaptable, it can be tailored to an event you are running, your organization etc. and it is designed to educate kids about disabled sports and the Paralympic movement. This has been a project in the works for quite some time, and I am super psyched to FINALLY be able to announce this. Look for an e-version of the prototype on here next week!

Catch me if you can. 2010 is here, and I’m off and running!!

Hartford Ski Spectacular

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Wow... what an amazing week out at The Hartford Ski Spectacular. I had not been out to the event since...2001? For those of you not familiar with the event, it is an extraordinary event sponsored by The Hartford and put on by Disabled Sports USA that brings in over 800 individuals --- people with disabilities learning to ski, learning to race, adaptive instructors/coaches, wounded warriors, program coordinators etc. The energy is high and it is the kind of week that sticks with people for a long time, if not for life.

For me, I remember as a kid going to skispec looking up to the Paralympic athletes at the time and realizing that I too could maybe one day be like them. It was a surreal week to come full circle and to be on the other side of the table--not there as a learn to race participant, but rather as a guest with The Hartford and also a representative for the Board of Directors for DSUSA.

The Hartford runs an event within the event that involves bringing in a customer wave and a producer/broker wave. This means clients and employees of the Hartford have the opportunity to see firsthand what it is they are all about. They are a company that walks the talk and this event really shows that. There are business sessions in the morning and then they have the opportunity to ski with us and ask questions and meet other participants throughout the week. It's pretty cool and each athlete has the chance to share their story as well to the group.

The highlights of the week were witnessing those individuals who lost their legs just months ago in the war getting out on the ski hill for the first time, the customers who had never before gone skiing conquering their fears to give it a try, getting others to try monoskiing for the very first time; it was incredible.

On a personal note, it was incredible to be surrounded by so many people who have been there for me since I got involved with disabled sports. So many former instructors, life mentors, friends, coaches, volunteers were there. In particular Kathy & Liz, the two who I lived with for a year while attending the Waterville Valley Ski Academy, they both are involved in some capacity running the whole event. It was just like old times catching up with them. I would not be where I am today without these two incredible people. They were there for me through one of the hardest times in my life, and for that I am forever grateful.

The week was a huge success, I was certainly in my element loving every minute. Now it's back to reality, one more day of the semester then I can finally unpack, perhaps do some Christmas shopping and get ready to spend some time with the family next week.

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