(Senate - September 13, 2012)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.


[Pages S6333-S6334]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                         2012 PARALYMPIC GAMES

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, this past Sunday, the closing ceremonies 
of the 2012 summer Paralympic games were held in London. More than 
4,200 athletes seated in the arena were joined by 80,000 cheering 
spectators to celebrate the culmination of 11 days of athletic 
achievement with parades, fireworks, and music.
  Of the 227 American athletes competing in this year's London games, 
20 are members or veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, including three 
Active Duty servicemembers. This is especially noteworthy given that it 
was disabled British World War II veterans using sports as 
rehabilitation who founded what has become today's modern Paralympic 
  Among those representing Team USA in the London Paralympic games were 
many athletes from Illinois, including a number of students and alumni 
of the University of Illinois' acclaimed Adapted Varsity Athletics 
  Evanston native Greta Neimanas arrived at her second Paralympic games 
as a 7-time national champion, 13-time world championship medalist and 
ParaPan Am games gold medalist. A longtime patient of the 
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) and an inspiration to many of 
RIC's younger patients, she competed in both track and road cycling 
events in London.
  Joe Berenyi left London with three Paralympic medals: a gold, a 
silver, and a bronze. The cyclist, who was born in Aurora, IL, also set 
a world record on his way to becoming the Paralympic champion in the 
men's individual C3 Pursuit. A father of three, Joe returned to Oswego 
this week where he was surprised by a parade of family and friends in 
his honor.
  Centennial High School graduate Nichole Millage of Champaign won her 
second silver medal in sitting volleyball as a member of the women's 
team. Even before winning silver in Beijing, Nichole saw the amputation 
of her left leg as an opportunity, not a disability.
  Born in Chicago, Justin Zook is a three-time Paralympic gold medalist 
and world recordholder. Justin's victory in the 100-meter backstroke in 
London was all the more impressive given his disability 
reclassification on the eve of the games, placing him alongside 
athletes with a lower level of physical disability than he had competed 
against previously.
  University of Illinois junior Tatyana McFadden, who goes by the 
nickname ``Lady Velocity,'' won four medals in London: three gold and 
one bronze. She competed in the 100, 400, 800, and 1,500 meters and the 
marathon and was only

[[Page S6334]]

prevented from medaling in all five by a punctured tire during the 
marathon. She still came in ninth. As a leading voice advocating for 
disability rights, her motto is ``Sports is my passion, paving access 
for others is my purpose.''
  Born and raised in Chicago, Eric Barber has been playing wheelchair 
basketball for 20 years. He captured his second Paralympic medal this 
year in London as a member of the bronze-winning U.S. men's wheelchair 
basketball team. Eric was also a member of the wheelchair basketball 
team that won bronze in Sydney in 2000.
  Joining him on the men's wheelchair basketball team was former 
University of Illinois point guard Steve Serio, who led the U.S. team 
with 20 points and recorded four rebounds and eight assists during the 
team's bronze-medal game against host Great Britain.
  Team captain Will Waller was the third Illini on the men's wheelchair 
basketball team at his fourth Paralympic games.
  Jennifer Chew represented the University of Illinois on the women's 
wheelchair basketball team. When not training herself, she manages the 
Denver Lady Nuggets basketball team and assistant coaches the Junior 
Rolling Nuggets basketball team.
  Teammate and fellow Illini Sarah Castle was in London at her fourth 
Paralympic games but only her second as a basketball player. Sarah 
competed at the 2000 and 2004 Paralympic games as a swimmer--winning 
silver in Sydney--before a shoulder injury prompted her to pursue 
wheelchair basketball instead.
  Paralympian Adam Bleakney has competed in wheelchair racing events 
ranging from 100 meters to the marathon in the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 
now 2012 summer games. Adam completed both his undergraduate and 
graduate education at the University of Illinois in Champaign, where he 
now serves as head coach of the wheelchair track team.
  Three-time Chicago Marathon winner Josh George claimed bronze in 
London in the men's 800 meters. After graduating with honors from the 
University of Illinois, Josh continued to participate in the school's 
program as a volunteer assistant coach. When not racing, he works at 
Intelliwheels, a startup that develops innovative wheelchair 
technologies at the University of Illinois' EnterpriseWorks.
  Anjali Forber-Pratt began wheelchair racing when she was just 9 years 
old. She went on to win a total of four gold, six silver, and two 
bronze medals at the Junior National Wheelchair Games before claiming 
two bronze medals at the Paralympic games in Beijing and competing in 
the 100, 200, and 400 meters in London. Anjali embodies her personal 
motto, ``Dream, Drive, Do'' not only as an athlete but also as a 
student--she holds three degrees from the University of Illinois, 
including her doctorate.
  Illinois freshman Ray Martin dominated the track, sweeping the men's 
100, 200, 400, 800 meters. His impressive four gold medals placed him 
at the top of the medal count for Illini athletes.
  Since competing in his first marathon in 2007, Aaron Pike has become 
one of the top wheelchair racers in America in the event. At the 
University of Illinois, he led the Illini to four straight finals of 
the National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, and two 
  Jessica Galli of Savoy has competed in four Paralympic games, where 
she has won one gold, one bronze, and four silver medals. She holds 
both a bachelor's and a master's degree from the University of 
Illinois, where she also competed on the wheelchair track team. She 
serves as an advocate for disabled athletes through her work on the 
U.S. Olympic Committee's Athletes' Advisory Council, Wheelchair and 
Ambulatory Sports USA, and USA Wheelchair Track and Field.
  In a momentous year for Brian Siemann, he not only competed in his 
first Paralympic games, but he will also graduate from the University 
of Illinois, where he is currently a senior. The 2012 U.S. Paralympic 
National Champion in the 100 and 200 meters, Brian lives his favorite 
quote: ``Don't stop believing.''
  Recent University of Illinois graduate Ryan Chalmers competed as a 
collegiate athlete in both basketball and track, where his multisport 
talent earned him an athletic scholarship. Ryan chose track over 
basketball before being selected as a member of Team USA for the 2012 
  After an intense summer training in Champaign, Amanda McGrory 
competed in London in five events, including the 800, 1,500, 5,000 and 
the marathon. The University of Illinois graduate began as a sprinter 
but changed her mind after her first marathon, one of the sport's most 
grueling events.
  Although she hadn't ever competed in a marathon until moving to 
Champaign to attend the University of Illinois just a few years ago, 
Susannah Scaroni represented the United States in the distance event in 
London. A member of the Illini track and road racing team, this was her 
first Paralympics.
  It is no coincidence that so many of Illinois' Paralympians are 
current students or alumni of the University of Illinois at Urbana-
Champaign. Since becoming the first in the Nation to open its doors to 
those with disabilities in 1949, our State's flagship university has 
become a world leader in disability sports. The University of Illinois' 
adaptive sports program draws athletes from across the globe, and has 
sent students, alumni or coaches to every Paralympics since 1960.
  Just as their nondisabled counterparts, the athletic ability and 
tenacious commitment of each and every one of these athletes serves as 
an inspiration to their friends, their families, and to Americans 
across the country. Although each faces some form of physical 
limitation, these athletes accept no limits on what they can achieve.
  I congratulate all of Team USA's athletes on their success at this 
year's Paralympic games, and especially those from Illinois. It is an 
honor to represent them.