Story and photos by Loren Worthington
Team USA came home from the 2016 Rio Paralympics with 115 medals. 40 gold, 44 silver and 31 bronze medals adorn the necks of USA’s Paralympians.
Arizonan athletes who helped bring back the overall 4th place-win include:
Elizabeth (Ellie) Marks
Prescott Valley, Arizona
Sitting Volleyball Women’s
Born Phoenix, Arizona
Chad Cohn Josh Wheeler
Wheelchair Rugby, mixed-open
Elizabeth (Ellie) Marks
Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay
Women’s Wheelchair 800m
The 2016 Rio Paralympics were nothing short of amazing. The media focused on what could go wrong in Brazil and in the end; everything went right – really right.
Especially for me. I’ve been taking photos for 8 years as a way to stay involved in sports. At 360 I have gotten to know many athletes with aspirations to achieve, to set personal records, to be successful – to win. As we prepare this edition of LivAbility with a focus on employment, I’m reminded of why sports matter, why hard work matters and why having goals is the key to success.
Allysa Seely graced our cover last edition and it was great to see her take home the gold medal for Paratriathlon. When I first met and photographed Allysa, she wasn’t the fastest runner, swimmer or cyclist. Nor was I, by any means, a polished photographer. Far far from it. But we both had goals and speaking for myself, I sure didn’t listen to people who said a person in a wheelchair couldn’t be a sports photographer.
I was invited to Rio by the US Paralympic Committee to photograph the 2016 Paralympics. I spent 11 days photographing some amazing competitions. I met many athletes who gave it their all.
I’m not special. I followed the same formula for success that most people do. I’m stubborn and just don’t listen to anyone that doubts what I can do. I have failed (and fell) a few times, I just keep working my butt off.
Back to Rio, many Arizonans on TeamUSA were also successful. Elizabeth Marks from Prescott Valley took home 2 medals in swimming. Lora Webster, whom I photographed for a calendar way back in 2011 took gold in Sitting Volleyball. Chad Cohn and Josh Wheeler from Tucson fought hard for gold in Wheelchair Rugby but at the end of double overtime, ended up one point shy and settled for silver.
Moving forward, I’m certain many of these athletes and some new ones I’m following in Arizona have their sights set on Tokyo in 2020. I plan to be there myself.
Finding something you love and making a career out of it is why LivAbility proudly features Cool Careers. I hope it convinces anyone reading these stories to get busy. Whether an athlete, artist or anything you want to be, we live in a country where opportunities are out there. We can’t all be swimmers or long jumpers with gold medal aspirations. But we can all aim to make our mark – to do our personal best. I can assure you that even if you come up short – the ride will be well worth it.
Communications and Marketing Manager