Paralympic Program

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The application deadline is November 1st of each year.
Sponsorships for the following calendar year will be announced no later than January 31st.

Loma Linda University PossAbilities is recognized by the U.S. Paralympic Committee as a Bronze Level Paralympic Sports Club. In 2014, we developed our new Paralympic program. This program is geared toward training and priming elite athletes to compete for a place on the National and U.S. Paralympic Teams in several sports including cycling, triathlon, swimming and snow boarding. It is only through your support that we can make this happen!

Our paralympic hopefuls are Alfonso Garibay, Andre Barbieri, Chris Sproule, Zimri Solis, Owen Daniels, Shawn Morelli, and Courtney Ryan.

MEET OUR ATHLETES

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SHAWN MORELLI
My move into the world of para-cycling was unforeseen. I was in the Army, deployed as an engineer officer in Afghanistan in 2007. When I was seriously injured by an improvised explosive device, and had my life changed. The blast left permanent injuries, blinding my left eye, damaging my neck and nerves, and giving me brain trauma. I struggled to heal leaning on family and friends when it was suggested I try cycling as a method of physical and mental therapy. In 2010 I was exposed to competitive cycling at the 2010 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte, and invited to my first para-cycling camp. My bike training has strengthened my body, improving balance to counteract my visual limitations and physical imbalances. I am currently on Team USA and compete in road and track cycling, pursuit, and team sprint. I have won 16 medals in World Championships and am a 2 time gold medalist Paralympian. To learn more about my experience visit my Team USA page. Click HERE to follow my blog.


CHRIS SPROULE 
In 2003, I was a Firefighter working for Las Vegas Fire & Rescue at one of the busiest fire stations in the country. On May 23, 2003, I was paralyzed in an accident. Not long after my accident an organization that helps address mobility issues for those with physical challenges provided me with a handcycle. That handcycle sat staring at me for years, only brought out for the occasional recreational ride, until I decided that both the handcycle and I could sit no longer. As I worked my way steadily from recovery to rehabilitation, and re-entry into family, friends, work and school, I began to see handcycling as a way to regain my independence, my identity as the lifelong athlete that I had been and, perhaps, to serve as an inspiration for others to move ahead and beyond the challenges that life can throw at you. Three years ago, I passed that original handcycle on to another young man, hoping it would serve as encouragement to move forward as it did for me. I would like to continue that message, setting in place the opportunity to endure, excel, and to exceed, by earning the right to be a Paralympic contender. Fourteen years and thousands of miles later, I am a competitive handcyclist trying to earn a place on the United States National Team and compete in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan. One of the most humbling things I have learned is that Olympians don’t get to the Olympics on their own. They have the support of family, friends, coaches, team members, their employers, and countless other people they may have never even met before. The support, ranging from words of encouragement from complete strangers to family and friends traveling with me around the country as my “pit crew”, has been incredible. I can’t even begin to express how appreciative I am. I started competing 4 years ago. My training includes cycling, strength, speed, and endurance training, and nutrition management. My coach is one of the best in the handcycling sport. With hard work and great coaching, I have seen success at the national level. Over the last three years, I was also invited to participate in five U.S. Paralympic Training Programs, just one more step in my quest to make the U.S Team. I am humbled be a member of Team PossAbilities and am excited about sharing their vision of providing all individuals with disabilities the opportunity to discover the boundless ways to find joy and satisfaction in a meaningful life. PossAbilities has opened doors and given me opportunities that have had such an incredibly positive impact in my life and I am so appreciative for that. The reason I work so hard is because of my natural athletic competitiveness and my desire to represent the United States at the Olympic Games, the pinnacle of athletic competition. As a former NCAA Division I soccer player, and as a proud Las Vegas Firefighter, I know what it takes to be the best because I have played and worked with the best. As an individual who met obstacles early on, I am committed to sharing the vision for rising above the challenges that come our way by making the U.S. Team and bringing home the gold! Achieving my goal is not possible without your help.


COURTNEY RYAN
I have been drawn to competition ever since my first steps, which I took following my older brother and sister out onto the soccer fields of Chula Vista, CA, where I was raised. I played soccer growing up from the age of four to nineteen, when I sustained a spinal cord injury (SCI) after a blood clot burst in my spinal cord. Before this injury, I played collegiate soccer at Metro State College of Denver. While playing there, I was a part of the 2008 team that made it to the NCAA Final Four, and I was awarded First Team All-American. After my SCI in 2010, I had to reckon with the fact that I could no longer play soccer. Fortunately, it was not long before I was exposed to wheelchair basketball and fell in love with the sport. In 2012, I began playing wheelchair basketball for the University of Arizona, where I got my Bachelor’s in Rehabilitation Counseling. Over my time with the sport, I have won two National Championships (one in the USA and one in Australia), and received four First Team All Tournament awards. I learned about PossAbilities in 2014 when my spouse and I wanted to establish and coach the only women’s wheelchair basketball team in California. We were beyond lucky to become a member of the PossAbilities Family when we learned that the organization would sponsor our team, the PossAbilities Shield Maidens. All of my experiences have led me to value athletics, and I am happy that I can share that gift with others now.

Since my first exposure to wheelchair basketball, my life has been deeply enriched and I hope to participate in the sport to the highest level possible. For the last few years, it has been my goal to qualify for the Paralympics and win a gold medal for my country. On January 17, 2019, I got one step closer to this goal when I made the first cut for the USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team, which will compete in the ParaPan Games (Lima, 2019) and the Paralympics (Tokyo, 2020). In the future, aside from pursuing a Paralympic gold medal, I hope to use my knowledge of adaptive athletics to improve the lives of disabled people. Click HERE to follow Courtney’s blog.


OWEN DANIELS
On January 27 2010, my whole life changed forever. I lost control of my vehicle while driving home early in the morning. My vehicle rolled over several times before I was ejected from the vehicle. When I opened my eyes I couldn’t feel my legs and knew immediately that I was paralyzed. The ambulance rushed me to Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC) where I was diagnosed a T9 paraplegic. After a few weeks of rehabilitation at LLUMC East Campus, I was sent home to the real world. Reality began to set in once I got home, and it felt like my life as I once knew it was over. Life seemed so much harder now and I just didn’t know if I would be able to cope with it. Luckily I had family and friends that supported me through that difficult time. After a few more months of doing nothing I finally told myself I wouldn’t let this injury beat me and define the person I was going to be. Before my accident I was a very active person and I vowed to be that guy again one day.  That’s when I asked a good friend of mine, who was also in a wheelchair and was very active, to point me in the right direction.  My friend introduced me to PossAbilities and from that day forward my life would forever change. The staff at PossAbilities recognized my ability to connect with others and trained me to be a peer visitor and spokesman for the program. Reaching out to help others became a very important part of my recovery and life. I learned that through sharing my story I was able to give others encouragement just like I had been given. Through PossAbilities I got a handcycle so I could get out and be active. Shortly after that I did my first handcycle race. I was immediately hooked. Riding my bike became a passion of mine and I just couldn’t get enough. I applied through the PossAbilities grant program for a racing bike and to my surprise I was selected and was able to buy my first handcycle. From there things moved so fast. I went from no training to training 6 days a week with a coach. Riding anywhere from 10 to as much as 18 hours a week. All I knew was racing. Everyday was a chance to get better, faster, stronger than the day before. I was addicted to the sport and now I had a new goal, to be the best hand cyclists I could be. Now going into my 9th season, multiple national championship podiums, plenty of wins, plenty of losses, plenty of lessons learned, but the best thing about racing has been the friendships I’ve made. I wouldn’t trade those for anything. Through the years, cycling has taught me so much about life and one of the most important lessons it has taught me is, “the mind always shuts down the body,  but the body always has more to give”. Currently I’m training in hope of making the National team for USA. Once I accomplish that, I can work to qualify for the Paralympics. I still continue to volunteer and be a spokesman for team PossAbilities trying my best to motivate others who may have felt helpless at some point. Life will give you losses but it’s how you deal with those losses that will define you as a person.


RYAN PINNEY
When I first got placed in a wheelchair due to a Spinal Cord Injury, I was looking for a new mission for my life. I was previously in the Air Force when I sustained the injury and since my military/career mission was no longer in my life, I was ready for a new one. I had never heard of or knew anything about Handcycling but an amazing organization that helped injured service members and their families gave me a handcycle because they knew how much I loved to ride. I was very excited about that gift and the first time I rode it, I did not particularly enjoy it. It was hard to just ride that thing around my block with just my arms. But, everyday that I rode it I went farther and it got easier. It was, for the first time since my injury, freeing. With that freeing feeling I began to start loving the handcycle and I wanted more than just riding around my neighborhood. I wanted to go fast and I wanted to race. There it is. There is my mission.

The injury that I got back in 2012 was something bad that happened in my life. But since then a lot more good has happened. I have been married, had a kid, traveled the word, gone skydiving, bought a house, and more with such more to come. My wife and daughter have been with me every step of the way and there is no way I would want to do this without them. The support system I have around me in my family and friends have been instrumental to my journey. I do not like people to feel sorry for me because of this injury or because I am in a wheelchair.  I was given this gift to be able to show people what is possible and to continue to live your life to the fullest no matter what obstacles we may have. They are only going to make us stronger. And I want to get as strong as I possibly can in this life.

I have raced all around the world both independently and for Team USA. I have been named to the Invictus Games team 3 times. I have been the Road Race, Time Trial, and Criterium National Champion. I have raced in a World Championship and have reached many goals and have made many more. My Handcycling career has had some challenges, but no matter what happens in the outside world, like my family, my bike will always be with me.


ZIMRI SOLIS
Zimri Solis was born on December 31, 1982, in Ocotlán in Jalisco, Mexico. He was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis at the age of 10. One day he spiked a fever, his whole body was hurting and he lost consciousness. His parents were alarmed with the symptoms he was having and took him to the hospital. They were there for a couple of hours before the doctors realized his condition was declining and he was much more serious than they initially thought. Zimri’s parents noticed a helicopter that was landing to pick someone up, little did they know that the helicopter was there for their son. Zimri was immediately airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center. When we arrived at Loma Linda, he had no vital signs and was pronounced dead. His family, doctors and nurses started praying for him, and within a short period of time his vitals came back. The doctors explained to his parents that the deadly virus was spreading to his whole body. In order to stop the spread of infection, they had to amputate his limbs. His parents, shocked with the news, didn’t know what to do, but ended up deciding to save Zimri’s life. After several amputation surgeries, he was kept in a coma for four months to allow his body to heal. Zimri describes waking up from the coma feeling like he was reborn. He had to learn how to walk and use his limbs all over again. After being discharged, he started his rehabilitation process at East Campus. While in rehab, he met Murray Brandstater, M.D., who helped him through all of his rehabilitation and surgeries. He became a regular visitor and patient of the Orthotics and Prosthetics Department where he was fitted for prosthetics. He adjusted well and learned that if there was a goal he wanted to reach there was nothing that could stop him. Zimri had an active childhood playing sports and overcoming whatever obstacles he faced. He got involved with the PossAbilities program and has now devoted his life to making a difference for others. He meets with patients in and out of the hospital to share his life story with others in an effort to give them hope and encouragement. He often speaks to Loma Linda University students to help them understand patient care and how to meet the needs of their future patients. Zimri is a father, mentor, and ambassador. He has made it his life’s work to make a difference for others and for that reason he is a hero.


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ANDRE BARBIERI
Since the injury that cost him his left leg, André Barbieri has developed a passion for para sports. Once a contender in triathlons, he now is training and pursuing his dream of returning to the snow. In 2010, Andre fell victim to a snowboarding accident that culminated in the amputation of his left leg. Andre suffered a compound fracture to his femur that severed his femoral artery, tore the nerves and veins in his leg, and he nearly died after losing a lot of blood. As a member of Team PossAbilities, Andre has worked with prosthetists at Loma Linda University Medical Center East Campus to develop sports legs that will allow him to train and compete in para events. His dream is to one day compete in the Paralympics Games! Click HERE to follow Andre’s blog.


HONORARY MEMBER

BRETT RICHARDS
My name is Brett Richards. I am a husband, a son, a brother, a cyclist, and a manager. Before what I call my second life which takes place after I was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident, I was born at Kaiser in Fontana California. Being born and raised in Southern California I am a sucker for warm weather, water, mountain views, and paved roads. I was raised throughout my childhood with my mother and father in Lytle Creek, California. I can remember riding my bike here going up and down the hill we lived on hundreds and hundreds of times. At the age of six my parents split up and my brother, Mom, and myself moved to Rancho Cucamonga. This is where my love for cycling really started. My step-father and Mom got me a blue BMX bike for Christmas so I could start racing BMX. I continued riding bikes through my high school years and later got into riding dirt bikes. During that time I met my wife Nicole who is my High School sweetheart. We met during our sophomore years in High School and got married in San Clemente 10 years later.

During a trip to Dumonte Dunes at the age of 22 I was involved in a motorcycle accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down. I was airlifted to UMC Las Vegas and barely survived the flight due to a punctured lung. After having my spine fused I was transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center for rehabilitation. It was a struggle getting back to normal life that year but between my amazing girlfriend at the time, my Mom, brother, and friends I got through it. Shortly after I got back to work with an office job at the same company I was working for before my accident, I purchased my first handcycle. I also asked my girlfriend to marry. She said yes. Now a wedding and three hand bikes later I have the woman and bike of my dreams.

It’s been a few years now of continuous cycling while balancing nutrition and overall health into my lives normal routine. I am proud to say I am now in better shape than I was before my accident. I have my family, friends, and Team PossAbilities to thank for that. Racing my handcycle and doing so for Team PossAbilities of Loma Linda University Medical Center, has been extremely rewarding and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds me and the team!


Entry into the Paralympic Paralympic Program is done by application (Below), letter of recommendation, personal interview, and review by the Paralympic Subcommittee. Participation in the program is subject to available funds. You can review our requirements and expectations in our Paralympic Program Policies. For more information on joining this program please our office at (909) 558-6384.

APPLICATION FOR PARALYMPIC PROGRAM

Paralympic Program

  • Please enter a number from 1 to 25.
    I attest that I approximate or am making progress towards meeting the national performance standard of my respective sport. I embrace the values of the organization which include: 1. COMPASSION – Reflecting the love of God through caring, respect, and empathy. 2. INTEGRITY – Ensuring my actions are consistent with these values. 3. EXCELLENCE – Putting forth an earnest effort to excel in my sport. 4. TEAMWORK – Collaborating with PossAbilities to achieve my Paralympic dream. 5. WHOLENESS – Embracing a balanced life that integrates mind, body, and spirit. I agree to exhibit professional conduct while at competition events as well as when I am in public. I agree to abide by the policies detailed in the Paralympic Program Policy Manual found on this webpage. Lastly, I understand that acceptance into this program is based on available funding and approval by the Paralympic Subcommittee.
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