by Mike Mushett, CEO
Like so many other peers of my era, I became involved in the Paralympic movement back in the early 1980s. At that time, the movement was propelled by the commitment and hard work of a small army of dedicated volunteers, and supported by a small coalition of pioneering disabled sports organizations, including the National Wheelchair Athletic Association, US Cerebral Palsy Athletic Association, United States Association of Blind Athletes, US Amputee Athletic Association, Disabled Sports USA, Dwarf Athletic Association of America, and others.
Prior to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) adopting the Paralympic movement, this coalition would organize, select athletes, and help support sending teams to the Paralympic games. With the USOC Board of Directors’ recent announcement that it is now fully embracing the Paralympic movement by renaming the organization the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), we should certainly pause to acknowledge what a long way we’ve come!
This decision marks a historic turning point that honors the work of our athletes, staff, and organization, as well as all athletes with disabilities in our country. I applaud the USOPC for this milestone and their commitment to equity and inclusion for all athletes and all people.
My current employer Turnstone was named one of 14 United States Olympic and Paralympic Training Sites in 2018. From the Turnstone perspective, we embrace our role within the Olympic and Paralympic family. Turnstone’s legacy work of creating possibilities for people with disabilities aligns directly with the USOPC’s ongoing commitment to promoting excellence in the lives of people with Paralympic-eligible impairments, including physical disabilities and visual impairments.
This announcement reaffirms the USOPC’s mission to empower all Team USA athletes to achieve competitive excellence and inspire our nation. We are proud to continue building our relationship with the USOPC, contributing to the momentum of the Paralympic movement, and creating possibilities for children, youth, and adults with disabilities.
I am optimistic and excited about the future of Paralympic sport, growing the relationship between the Olympic and Paralympic Movements, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and beyond!