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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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Standing Up for What is Right

Arielle Rausin

Arielle Rausin

By: KD Rausin

For three years I had a poster hanging in my fourth grade classroom. It said, "Stand Up For What Is Right, Even If You Are Standing Alone." I knew it was a good lesson for my students but I didn't know how frightening standing up for what is right can be.

Related Content:
Compassion in Action is the story of how Arielle Rausin was injuried.


March 12th, 2009, seemed like an ordinary hot, sunny Florida day. It wasn't ordinary at all. History was being made in Southwest Florida. In the quiet little town of Punta Gorda,  two men at Charlotte High School stood up for what was right and allowed my daughter Arielle to race in a high school track meet open mile along with twenty seven other high school teams. For the very first time, Elle could race on a track with other girls. I stood in the bleachers, camera in hand shouting and snapping pictures. I watched Elle emerge from behind and finish the 1600 meter race in second place. I felt her joy, knowing that for the first time she could run a race with girls her age and feel that sense of competition and accomplishment. Watching my daughter have the same opportunity as other high school girls made all the advocating worth while. I shook things up in our area for a few months. There were some who opposed having a disabled athlete on a high school track team. It was difficult hearing that my daughter technically could not even wear the school uniform. Those who opposed change clung to tradition and hid behind books of procedures unwilling to see the big picture. Luckily for us, there were some brave souls willing to stand up and do what they knew was right. Charlotte High School was one of them. We were not alone.

Arielle suffered a T-11 spinal cord injury from a car accident when she was in fourth grade. When she entered sixth grade her PE teacher, Ms. Black encouraged her to become active. By seventh grade, Elle and her father started racing in our local 5K's. Ms. Black then advocated for Arielle to become a member of the middle school track team. Arielle found she loved track and loved competing. In October of 2007 Arielle and her dad competed in Disney's Race For The Taste 10K. A representative from the Challenged Athletes Foundation saw that Elle was racing in her everyday chair. Thanks to CAF and Elle's grandfather, a custom fit racing chair was made and three months later Elle raced with professional athletes in the Elite Wheelchair Division of Tampa's Gasparilla 15K.

Now, Arielle is a freshman member of the North Fort Myers High School track team. She has another dedicated coach, Ms. Purish who motivates, trains, and encourages Elle to do her very best. Elle runs over twenty miles a week and lifts weights on the days she doesn't run. March 26th we will travel to Emory University in Atlanta so Elle can race against other high school and college wheelchair athletes. Elle has set a goal to compete in the 2012 Paralympics in London.

Many of the schools in South West Florida are now welcoming Elle to participate in their track meets. Elle races alone against her own time while the crowd cheers for her. Students come up to congratulate her for a job well done. Elle in turn motivates her teammates to keep up with her in practices. Elle loves being a member of the track team. I believe she has been an inspiration to those competing in track meets and our community 5K runners. For Elle it is about challenging herself to do her best and getting out there to show the world that life is meant to be enjoyed. I am so proud of my daughter for her bravery and willingness to stand up for what is right from the seat of her wheelchair.

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The Adaptive Sports Center (ASC)A non-profit organization located in Colorado that provides year-round recreation activities for people with disabilities and their families.

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Golf for People with Disabilities (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Sports and Competition (PDF)

American Association of AdaptedSportWorks to enhance the health, independence and self-sufficiency of youths with physical disabilities by facilitating adapted sports programs in local communities, in cooperation with schools, parks and recreation, YMCA/YWCAs, hospitals, parents and other groups.

Blaze Sports501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that advances the lives of youth and adults with physical disability through sport and healthy lifestyles. BlazeSports provides sports training, competitions, summer camps and other sports and recreational opportunities for youth and adults with spinal cord injury, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, muscular dystrophy, amputation, visual impairment or blindness as well as other physical disabilities.

Disabled Sports USAOffers nationwide sports rehabilitation programs to anyone with a permanent physical disability. Activities include winter skiing, water sports, summer and winter competitions, fitness and special sports events. DSUSA, as a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, is the governing body for winter sports for all athletes with disabilities, and for summer sports for amputee athletes. Nationwide chapter network of sports and rec programs.

The Handicapped Scuba AssociationPromotes the physical and social well being of people with disabilities through the exhilarating sport of scuba diving.

Hand CyclingWhether for fitness, serious competition, or pure recreation, here's a sport that can be enjoyed by many and provide quite the "ride" at the same time.

International Paralympic CommitteeThe International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement. The IPC organizes the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games, and serves as the International Federation for nine sports, for which it supervises and co-ordinates the World Championships and other competitions.

Life Rolls OnLRO is the story of able-bodied individuals, working in concert with those with spinal cord injury, to motivate each other with the inspirational message of achievement in the face of extreme adversity. Life Rolls On utilizes action sports through our flagship program, They Will Surf Again, which pushes the boundary of possibility for those with spinal cord injury (SCI).

National Wheelchair Basketball AssociationBasketball is perhaps the oldest organized sport for athletes in wheelchairs. The game is fast and fun, and played in dozens of cities across the U.S.

The National Center on AccessibilityNSCD provides recreation for children and adults with disabilities. In addition to recreational downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, NSCD provides year-round competition training to ski racers with disabilities. Summer recreation opportunities include biking, hiking, in-line skating, sailing, therapeutic horseback riding, white water rafting, baseball, fishing, rock climbing for the blind, and camping.

Quad RugbyFormerly known as murderball, Quad Rugby is a game for quads who can push a chair. Fast, rough and very competitive.

The United States Tennis AssociationTennis has been adapted for the wheelchair player: the ball can bounce two times. This allows chair-players to give standup players a run for the their money. The sport is growing fast and is very competitive at the elite level. Click on "community tennis."

U.S. ParalympicsA division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, it is dedicated to becoming the world leader in the Paralympic sports movement and promoting excellence in the lives of people with physical disabilities through education, sports programs and partnerships with community organizations, medical facilities and government agencies.

World T.E.A.M. SportsUnites people with and without disabilities through unique athletic events taking place all over the world.

Paralysis Resource Center The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

Reeve Foundation Online Paralysis Community Connecting people living with paralysis, families, friends and caregivers so we can share support, experience, knowledge, and hope.

Quality of Life Grants DatabaseFind resources within the PRC Quality of Life Grants Database. Search by Zip Code, State or an Entire Category.

Library Books and VideosFind resources within the PRC library catalog.

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The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90PR3001, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.