TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Shriners Hospitals for Children® proudly celebrates the achievements of five current and former patients competing to qualify for the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia, March 7 - 16, 2014. These inspirational athletes are competing to join the U.S. Paralympic Team in the sports of sled hockey, downhill skiing and snowboarding.
Most of these Paralympic hopefuls were introduced to their sport and got their first taste for athletic competition through a Shriners Hospitals for Children adaptive sports clinic. These educational programs are designed to encourage patients to adopt a "no limits" philosophy and to introduce them to sports they might not otherwise have a chance to participate. Shriners Hospitals for Children started one of the first U.S. sled hockey teams in Erie, Pa. and soon followed with six more teams in the Northeast. Additionally, Shriners Hospitals for Children hosts adaptive sports clinics and camps throughout the year at many of its 22 facilities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
For more than 90 years, Shriners Hospitals for Children has transformed the lives of children around the world through innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. Shriners Hospitals for Children provides all aspects of treatment, including surgery, rehabilitation and psychological support for children with orthopaedic conditions, spinal cord injuries, burns and cleft lip and palate. All care and services are provided regardless of the family's ability to pay.
"Everyday Shriners Hospitals for Children sends Love to the Rescue® by encouraging patients to accept no limits throughout their healing process," said John Cinotto, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Shriners Hospitals for Children. "Our adaptive sports and camps across the country help maximize a patient's mobility, teach strength and endurance and renew a child's self-confidence. It's just another example of how we treat the whole child and believe the healing process extends beyond the four walls of our hospitals."
Meet the Shriners Hospitals for Children athletes:
Heidi Jo Duce, 23, snowboards with a prosthetic leg. Duce was born without a fibula and most of the bones in her right ankle and foot; she has been a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children - Salt Lake City. Duce learned to snowboard by attending Shriners Hospitals for Children - Salt Lake's Un-Limb-ited Amputee Camp at the age of 11. It was her physical therapist from Shriners Hospitals for Children who introduced her to the sport. Heidi's first competitive race was in January 2013. She is currently ranked in the top 3 in the country for the sport. This year will be the first time snowboarding will be a part of the Paralympic games.
Dan McCoy, 19, is a former Shriners Hospitals for Children - Erie patient who was introduced to sled hockey at the age of 5. Dan has been playing sled hockey for 14 years and has been a member of the US National Sled Hockey Team for 3 years. He helped Team USA win a gold medal in the 2012 International Paralympic Committee Ice Sledge World Championship in Hamar Norway as well as in the 2012 World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Calgary Alberta CAN.
Joe Dertinger, 18, the men's Junior National Champion, is competing to qualify in downhill skiing. Dertinger is a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children - Twin Cities and skis with an adaptive prosthetic leg. Dertinger has been named the Fastest Skier with a Disability in the U.S. under the age of 18. He started skiing at age five and has had thirty prostheses in his life all built by Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Nicole Roundy, 27, also snowboards with a prosthetic leg and was a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children - Salt Lake City. At age 8, Nicole was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. Later that year she lost her right leg above the knee. Nicole returned to the slopes in 2004 as an adaptive snowboarder. Her first team was with able-bodied athletes who pushed her to be the competitor she is today.
Andrew Haraghey, 18, a downhill skier with Cerebral Palsy began skiing at the age of 7. Due to his cerebral palsy, walking and running were challenging but skiing gave him freedom. During the 2012-13 ski season he began training during the summer with a trip to Mount Hood, OR to ski the glacier. Haraghey is treated at Shriners Hospitals for Children - Springfield.
To learn more about these inspiring athletes, please visit www.ShrinersHospitalsforChildren.org/athletes.
About Shriners Hospitals for Children
Shriners Hospitals for Children is changing lives every day through innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. Our 22 facilities, located in the United States, Canada and Mexico, provide advanced care for children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate.
Shriners Hospitals for Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and relies on the generosity of donors. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.
Contact: Misti Dragano
SOURCE Shriners Hospitals for Children