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Injured Veterans Try Surfing with Roller

Andy Powers (left) lost both legs in Afghanistan. Photo/Phil Klein
Andy Powers (left) lost both legs in Afghanistan. Photo/Phil Klein

A group of 12 veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, many who are amputees, attended a surf clinic in August in Pismo Beach, California. Operation Comfort, a nonprofit organization providing support to injured service members, arranged for the veterans to stay at SeaVenture Resort and attend a special surf clinic taught by local amputee surfing champion Rodney Roller.

Twenty-one years after a forklift accident severed his right leg from the knee down, Grover Beach, California, resident and amputee surfer Roller is working to pass the "stoke" of riding waves to other injured surfers.

Roller and a team of volunteers guided the veterans from Brooke Army Medical Institute into the cold waters on the south side of Pismo Pier. The event was the second surf clinic sponsored in part by the Amputee Surfers Alliance, also known as Ampsurf, a group Roller helped found with other local amputee surfers. Ampsurf's focus is to get amputees out into the water-surfing, surf kayaking, body boarding or just plain being out in the waves, he said.

USOC Staff Changes Enhance Paralympic Emphasis

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) announced key staffing and program changes to support the expansion of the Paralympic movement in the United States.

Charlie Huebner, formerly chief of staff for the USOC, has been named chief of US Paralympics, a division of the USOC, and secretary general US Paralympics. His prior responsibilities included leadership of US Paralympics, but in his new role, he will focus full-time on building the US Paralympics division domestically and internationally, USOC said. All key Paralympic departments will report directly to him.

The changes are the result of an in-depth strategic planning process undertaken by USOC leadership over the past several months. The USOC Game Plan, developed by USOC senior management in May, includes several components aimed at growing the Paralympic movement in the United States.

US Paralympics will continue to focus on high performance at the Paralympic Games. As a result of the new Game Plan, the organization also will expand its emphasis on building awareness of Paralympics and developing Paralympic sport programs for persons with physical disabilities throughout the country.

"In a sense, we are expanding the development of a new business," said Jim Scherr, USOC chief executive officer. "It is critical that we create a focus both domestically and internationally on Paralympics and build upon the great progress we have made in the past three years in our US Paralympics program."

As a result of the new initiatives, USOC announced the following staff assignments in addition to Huebner's new role:

Joe Walsh, managing director of US Paralympics, has been named deputy secretary general, US Paralympics. He is responsible for leading, in collaboration with other USOC divisions, the expansion of a Paralympic international relations strategy and Games logistics.

In addition, Michael Mushett has joined the USOC as director of US Paralympics Outreach & Development. Mushett recently left the US Disabled Athletes Fund Inc./BlazeSports where he served as vice president of programs and led the development of grassroots programs for persons with physical disabilities throughout the US.

In his new position with the USOC, Mushett will be responsible for expanding US Paralympics' role in the development of programs for persons with physical disabilities through collaboration with other Paralympic organizations.

Patty Sturm will serve as Huebner's executive administrative assistant.

For more information visit  www.usparalympics.org

OPAF First Swim Clinic 'Fabulous'

The O&P Assistance Fund Inc. ('OPAF') First Swim adaptive swim clinic August 19 was "fabulous," said OPAF Executive Director Robin Burton.

Burton said the event, held at the Highlands Swim Club, Galloway Township, New Jersey, was covered by the Press of Atlantic City. Readers can view the full story at www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/story/6655632p-6525531c.html

Photos can be viewed at www.pressofac.mycapture.com/mycapture/index.asp

Burton thanked OPAF Advisory Board members, "for organizing a great clinic." Sponsors of the event included WBC Industries, Allied O&P, Freedom Innovations, O&P Business News, Pepsi Inc., and Highland Swim Club.

Burton added,..."thanks to all of our terrific swim coaches and volunteers who gave of their time and expertise with this clinic. It was truly amazing to watch these coaches as they observed the swimmers individually and made recommendations as to specific adaptations to normal swimming styles that would benefit each swimmer."

In other OPAF news, Manfredi Orthotic and Prosthetic Affiliates Inc., Long Branch, New Jersey, hosted a successful First Volley adaptive tennis clinic for its patients on Friday, August 25, in Lincroft, New Jersey. First Volley is another of the adaptive sports programs developed by OPAF.

More than 20 people attended the event, held at the Brookdale Community College. The Brookdale Women's Tennis Team served as volunteers and ball chasers. Bob Manfredi Sr., CPO, of the sponsoring company was counted among those seeking to improve their game. "Players enthusiastically participated in various tennis drills and finished the day with the ever-popular Hitting for Prizes,' sponsored by Prince Sports," said Burton. "Each First Volley member received a certificate of participation as well as a pair of OPAF/First Volley sport socks, thanks to one of our regular sponsors, Comfort Products." First Volley Tennis Clinics are underwritten through a contribution from Otto Bock HealthCare, Minneapolis, Minnesota, she noted.

For more information about OPAF's programs, including First Swim and First Volley, contact Robin Burton: 215.752.5756; e-mail:lb@opfund.org