For five years, the partnership between the RCPD and Athletes with Disabilities Network (ADN) has provided a total of over 20 scholarships to recognize and encourage the athletic and educational aspirations of persons with disabilities at MSU.
RCPD Director Michael Hudson said, “The ADN Scholarships are instrumental in helping people with disabilities elevate their pursuits while raising expectations of what is possible despite noteworthy challenges.”
Director Michael Hudson welcomes attendees to the 2013 Appreciation and Awards Reception
This year, the RCPD scholarship committee recognized five academically and athletically inspiring students. The ADN was able to fund four scholarships of $1,250, and thanks to the Emerging Opportunities endowment, the RCPD was able to fund the fifth scholarship independently.
Recipient Piotr P., a graduate student in the Rehabilitation Counseling program, was awarded the ADN Scholarship in 2011 for his determination to challenge himself athletically. Despite having a mobility disability, Piotr began playing soccer after his move to the United States and has since expanded his athletic interest to include air-pistol shooting, running, wheelchair tennis, skiing, and currently he is training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Piotr promotes engaging in an active lifestyle stating, “Participating in athletics vividly illustrates the fact that my world has no boundaries and my ability has no limits.”
He continues to emphasize the “ability” of persons with disabilities by encouraging others to lead an active, healthy lifestyle.
Another ADN Scholarship recipient, Sara S., will enter this fall as a fifth-year kinesiology student in pursuit of her passion to coach and train athletes with disabilities.
Growing up, Sara lived and breathed hockey. After suffering from a head injury while playing on the MSU Women’s Club Hockey team, she was directed by doctors to put her skates on the shelf. However discouraging it was to put athletics on hold, she saw this as an opportunity to push herself in all aspects of her life.
Sara relates, “Although my disabilities are ‘invisible’, I can sympathize with being told that [I was] never going to be able to play sports again.”
Between making the Dean’s List, assisting her hockey team to win the 2011 National Championship and joining the Women’s Rowing team at MSU, Sara continues to work hard and actively promote the impact that exercising has regardless of disabilities. She exhibits this passion through the Tagget Fellowship, in which she created the RCPD Physical Activity Club to learn about healthy ways to cope with stress for persons with any type of disability.
ADN Scholarship recipients and staff after their awards were presented at the 2013 Reception
Another student recognized was junior Adam Z. For years, Adam kept his visual impairment concealed from hockey and golf coaches, refusing to let it be an obstacle when competing in athletics. Eventually, he realized that by not receiving accommodations, he was only limiting himself.
Adam said, “[My visual impairment] is an obstacle I will face my entire life and I refuse to let this hold me back from achieving the goals I have set for myself.
“Sports have taught me to set the bar high and to not let things out of my reach bring me down.”
Adam continues to play intermural hockey in East Lansing and has recently been accepted into the Eli Broad Business College for Accounting.
During early college, 2011 MSU graduate Jacqueline S., another recipient, experienced the onset of a chronic illness limiting her mobility and temporarily removing her from school.
After deciding to be more proactive in living a healthy lifestyle, Jacqueline discovered the MSU Club Gymnastics team in the fall of her senior year. Following hard work and determination, she was able to compete at Nationals, took on a 5k and was an assistant coach for Marquette’s Varsity Track team.
Jackie and friends pause at the Sparty statue during a rigorous bike ride to raise money for research on the chronic illness that she has
Jacqueline is thankful for the help and support of her family, friends and the RCPD. She said, “The RCPD is an organization that made it possible for me to finish my degree at MSU.
“I am completely motivated to give back to all the individuals and programs that have helped me through this disease.”
Jacqueline is currently preparing to apply to pharmacy schools in order to better the lives of others who are limited by the same disease.
Previous recipient, senior Nicholas V., is currently studying Journalism with a focus on environmental at Michigan State. Although having a visual impairment is a challenge for Nicholas, he is far from limited by his disability.
He is a hunter safety instructor, an intern at Christ’s Outreach for the Blind and just last year received his diving certification.
Nicholas is going to be a Michigan sports education camp instructor at Western Michigan University, and hopes to teach others “about sports and the importance of not giving up.”
RCPD Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Mobility Ability Access Specialist Virginia Martz praises the achievements that the ADN Scholarships have contributed to. She said, “[They] have provided an opportunity for Michigan State University students with physical disabilities to explore, participate, and excel in athletics and athletic competitions, which previously may have seemed unattainable due to the expense of equipment, travel, and completion fees.
“The scholarship removes the financial worry for many talented athletes and allows the athletes to triumph in their sport.”
The accomplishments and stories of the five ADN recipients were showcased at the 2013 Awards and Appreciation Reception in April. Hudson commented on the RCPD and ADN partnership, “When we met Tony Filippis as part of our Adaptive Sports Festival in 2004, we could hardly imagine that our partnership would flourish as it has.”
The ADN and RCPD partnership has encouraged students at Michigan State University with disabilities to pursue their goals not only academically and athletically, but also as role models to the community.