Rockville, MD—August 19, 2009—Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA), one of the nation’s largest multi-sport, multi-disability organizations, today announced that the 100th local chapter has joined the nationwide network of community chapters that comprise the national organization. In its 42 years of operation, DSUSA has grown from a California-based group running one ski program for disabled Vietnam War veterans to partnering with 100 chapters participating in 30 different winter and summer sports, serving youth and adults with disabilities, in 38 states from Alaska to Florida and California to Maine.
“This is a momentous occasion for Disabled Sports USA,” said DSUSA President Bob Meserve, a former member of the US Paralympic Alpine Ski Team. “With steady growth for more than four decades, DSUSA will continue to develop and support year-round adaptive sports programs in communities nationwide.”
Disabled Sports USA was established in 1967 by disabled Vietnam and World War II veterans from the famous 10th Mountain Division. Their original mission was to help rehabilitate the severely wounded from Vietnam, through the sport of snow skiing. When the war ended, DSUSA expanded its mission to serve youth and adults with disabilities, civilian and military. It also began expanding its chapter network and scope of activities. During the 1970s and 1980s, DSUSA standardized adaptive skiing techniques and worked with the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) to incorporate adaptive skiing into their nationwide teaching and certification programs. That process was completed in the early 1990s with PSIA now offering Adaptive Certification courses nationwide.
“As the founding chapter of Disabled Sports USA, we are proud to be a part of an organization that has grown beyond our wildest dreams. This is testament to the powerful, life-changing effects our programs have on the lives of adults and youth with disabilities.” said Doug Pringle, President of DSUSA Far West and a disabled Vietnam Veteran. “DSUSA’s service to today’s returning servicemen and women brings full circle a tradition DSUSA started during the Vietnam era. We are honored to continue to be a part of this great organization.” Pringle added. DSUSA Far West was also established in 1967.
“Disabled Sports USA is a constant source of guidance and resources which has been paramount in the success of our program.” said Rob Mueller, Managing Director of New England Disabled Sports in Lincoln, New Hampshire. “Since becoming a chapter of Disabled Sports USA in 1992 our experience with this organization has been second to none. The addition of the 100th Chapter is a major achievement for Disabled Sports USA and we congratulate them on this milestone. We are very proud to be a part of this family and will continue to hold the mission and values of Disabled Sports USA in the highest regard.”
In 1982, DS/USA was accepted as a member of the US Olympic Committee and now works with the U.S. Paralympics to identify and develop emerging elite athletes with disabilities. In the 1990’s, DSUSA helped lead the fight to secure equal recognition for Paralympic Athletes within the US Olympic Movement culminating in the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act Amendments of 1998 that recognized Paralympic athletes as full members of the USOC. In addition, in the 1980’s, DSUSA established “Fitness is for Everyone,” the first nationwide fitness exercise program for people with disabilities, along with a program to help parents of children with disabilities secure physical education as part of special education programs under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
DSUSA: Continuing a Legacy of Mentoring & Advocacy
In keeping with its commitment to serving disabled youth, DSUSA recently established “Mentoring for Success,” a national program to encourage youth with disabilities to become involved in sports using the mentoring model. More than 30 DSUSA chapters in 17 states have been trained in this program youth mentoring program.
Advocating for the disabled community and demonstrating the benefits of sports rehabilitation therapy has always been a focus of DS/USA. This year DS/USA released the results of a Harris Interactive survey on the correlation between those who engage in sports rehabilitation and impact on health and employment. In some cases, employment rates for adults with disabilities active in sports was twice the rate of the general population of disabled workers.
Also, true to its founding roots, in 2003, after the War in Iraq was declared, DSUSA established the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project, with its partner Wounded Warrior Project. This nationwide program has now served over 2,500 of the most severely wounded and their family members. This has included those with amputations, traumatic brain injury, paralysis and blindness. The program offers sports rehabilitation programs nationwide, in the major military medical facilities where the severely wounded are being treated; including Washington DC; San Diego California and San Antonio Texas.
About Disabled Sports USA
Founded in 1967 by disabled Vietnam veterans, Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA) provides national leadership and opportunities for individuals with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through participation in community sports, recreation and educational programs. DS/USA is a national multi-sport, multi-disability organization serving more than 60,000 youth and adults annually. A member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, DS/USA offers programs through its nationwide network of 100 community-based chapters operating in 38 states. For schedules and additional information, click here or call (301) 217-9840.