Expo destroys old stereotypes

November 21, 2006|By Tyrone Richardson | Tyrone Richardson,Sun reporter

Ronnie Hall, a former volunteer firefighter, lost his leg several years ago when his firetruck flipped over and landed on him.

But the 36-year-old College Park man hasn't let his disability deter him from taking part in sports such as softball, basketball and touch football. So he was enthusiastic about yesterday's Extreme & Adaptive Sports Expo, held in Howard County.

"This breaks down the stereotypes about disabled and helps people to see and understand that we can do the same thing - perhaps even better than them," said Hall, who was among hundreds of spectators at yesterday's event at Glenwood Community Center.

At a time of rising visibility for disabled athletes such as Howard County's disabled high school track star Tatyana McFadden, the state Department of Disabilities held the expo to showcase the abilities of disabled athletes.

Yesterday's event, which followed a similar event in Baltimore last year, drew Howard County students, adults and dignitaries such as Kristen Cox, secretary of the state Department of Disabilities, who played soccer on a youth league despite advancing vision loss.

Skateboarder Garry Moore Jr., an amputee since a 1997 accident crushed his left foot, was among the dozens of instructors and athletes taking part in the event. Moore offered a skateboard demonstration and drew an enthusiastic crowd, as students called out for tricks and yelled the names of famous skateboarders such as Tony Hawk.

Moore seemed a star to the throngs of children, even being called on to sign autographs.

"That was kind of a surprise. I totally did not expect that," Moore said of the autograph seekers.

His sport lived up to the label of "extreme" - amid the demonstrations, one disabled skateboarder gashed his hand landing after a jump.

The event also included wheelchair basketball and racing, therapeutic horseback riding demonstrations and information on wheelchair ballroom dancing.

As Nat "King" Cole's "Fascination" blared from a radio, Sue Green, an able-bodied dance instructor with DanceWheels DC, swayed her upper body in a graceful demonstration of wheelchair ballroom dancing technique.

"This shows that even though people are disabled, they can still be able to have fun with friends and dance," Green said.

tyrone.richardson@baltsun.com

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