University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute Tapped by U.S. Paralympics as Paralympic Sport Club

For immediate release: April 22, 2015

Contact:

Karen Warmkessel

[email protected] | 410-328-8919

‘Gateway to Gold’ Event for Wheelchair Rugby Set for June 13-14 at Catonsville High School

BALTIMORE – The University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute has been selected by U.S. Paralympics as a Paralympic Sport Club, a designation that will increase the hospital’s ability to provide disabled athletes in Maryland with opportunities to learn about and compete in Paralympic sports.

The hospital – part of the University of Maryland Medical System – has a well-established adapted sports program and is home to the Maryland Mayhem, a wheelchair rugby team that competes in local and regional competitions. The new sports club, which is called Paralympic Sport Club – Maryland, is part of the hospital’s adapted sports program, which also offers clinics in wheelchair basketball and golf. Wheelchair rugby and basketball are both Paralympic sports.

To become a designated Paralympic Sport Club, the UM Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute had to meet certain criteria, including conducting programs in one or more Paralympic sports on a minimum 40 days a year, holding at least one Paralympic sport competition a year and encouraging coaches to earn national certification in their sport. This is the first time that the rehab hospital has partnered with U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee.

“We are extremely pleased and excited to be working with U.S. Paralympics to create new opportunities for individuals with physical and visual challenges to take part in Paralympic sports,” says Cynthia A. Kelleher, MPH, MBA, interim president and chief executive officer of UM Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute. “This affiliation enhances our adapted sports program, which promotes independence, self-confidence, health and overall well-being for disabled athletes through individual and team sports.”

Lori Patria, MS, OTR/L, director of rehabilitation therapy services, adds, “We hope to raise the level of development and play for disabled athletes throughout Maryland. Many of the athletes who participate in our adapted sports program are very talented and extremely motivated. We want to give them the opportunity to fulfill their dream of becoming Paralympians.”

On June 13 and 14, the hospital will host a free “Gateway to Gold” event at Catonsville High School at 421 Bloomsbury Ave. to promote wheelchair rugby. Gateway to Gold is a nationwide talent identification and development program that introduces youth, adults and veterans with Paralympic-eligible impairments to Paralympic sports and leads them to the athlete pipeline for the U.S. Paralympic Team. James Gumbert, coach of the U.S. Paralympics Wheelchair Rugby Team, will be on hand at the high school to meet the athletes and oversee the event. For more information, contact Lori Patria at (410) 448-6275 or [email protected].

The new sports club at the UM Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute is one of a growing network of Paralympic Sport Clubs throughout the country affiliated with U.S. Paralympics.

“We are pleased to announce this partnership with the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute,” says Rick Adams, Chief of Paralympic Sport and NGB Organizational Development. “The University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute is a top-notch organization that provides significant support and adaptive sport opportunities for youth and adults. As a new Paralympic Sport Club, it will undoubtedly create new pathways for Paralympic hopefuls to achieve their athletic dreams.”

U.S. Paralympics launched its Paralympic Sport Club program in 2007 to encourage youth and adults, including active duty service members and veterans, to take part in ongoing sports and physical activity, regardless of their skill level. The UM Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute developed its adapted sports program to help individuals with disabilities maximize their participation in adapted recreational and competitive sports.

The program includes a wheelchair basketball clinic, golf clinic and tournament and an annual Adapted Sports Festival that introduces participants to numerous sports, including golf, rugby, basketball, fencing, scuba, tennis and cycling. In December, 2014, the rehabilitation and orthopaedic hospital hosted its first wheelchair rugby tournament – the Crab Pot Tournament. The Maryland Mayhem faced off against the Magee Eagles from Philadelphia, the Capitol Punishers from Washington, D.C., and the West New York Wreckers from Western New York.

About University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute

The 144-bed University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute is the largest inpatient rehabilitation hospital and provider of rehabilitation services in Maryland. Patients make the transition to rehabilitation after recovering from stroke, traumatic injury, orthopaedic surgery and other debilitating conditions. The hospital is part of the University of Maryland Medical System, a 12-hospital system of academic, community and specialty hospitals. For more information, go to http://umrehabortho.org/. To learn more about the hospital’s Adapted Sports Program, visit http://umrehabortho.org/programs/adapted.

About U.S. Paralympics

U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, is dedicated to becoming the world leader in the Paralympic sports movement and to promoting excellence in the lives of persons with physical disabilities. Visit the U.S. Paralympics website at www.usparalympics.org.