Chairman Leads U.S. Delegation for Opening of Paralympic Games
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
LONDON, Aug. 29, 2012 A U.S. delegation led by Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived here yesterday ahead of opening ceremonies for the 2012 Paralympic Games and visited today with Paralympic athletes.
Kareem Dale, center, special assistant to President Barack Obama for disability policy, enters the University of East London's Sports Dock to visit the 2012 U.S. Paralympics basketball team as part of the U.S. delegation to the Paralypmic Games in London, Aug. 29, 2012. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Members of the delegation toured the Sports Dock at the University of East London campus, viewing one of the facilities athletes are using to prepare for the games.
“The biggest thing that we're doing is we're here to support our athletes,” said Kareem Dale, special assistant to President Barack Obama for disability policy. “The president and the entire administration are behind them, rooting for them and cheering them on.”
Dale, who is blind, had a message for the 227 U.S. Paralympians competing here.
“The message that not only I would send, but the president would send, is that we know, given the opportunity, our … Paralympic athletes can achieve anything that they desire,” he said. “And for those aspiring Paralympians, they should know that their country supports [them, too]. The people of America support you, and we believe in you.”
Dale noted the current group of wounded warriors and other athletes with disabilities who are Paralympians already are achieving great things. Wounded warriors served their country extremely well, he added, so Americans need to make sure they are serving them.
“Certainly, one of the ways is sports,” Dale said. “[It] is such a great tool so that people can get back in the swing of life, feel useful, feel productive and continue building on that team spirit that they learn in the military. It's just a great way for people to rehab and to get back into the swing of life.
“So for our wounded warriors,” he continued, “we're going to continue to support them when they come home.” Opportunities like the Paralympics help wounded warriors integrate back into society, he added.
Lisa Jackson, administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, also is part of the U.S. delegation. “It's an incredible honor to be able to represent the administration and all folks back home who would love to be here to cheer on our men and women,” she said.
Jackson said she is excited to be able to support all the U.S. athletes.
“I will be in the stands cheering our athletes on when they enter the stadium, and be able to witness firsthand the excitement that comes with the anticipation of letting them get out and do what they do best, which is compete and represent our country.”