Adaptive Sports Community Mourns Passing of Dr. Robert Harney, MD

June 19, 2012

For over 24 years “Dr. Bob” tirelessly demonstrated his love for sports and his community

Rockville, MD. June 19, 2012 — Disabled Sports USA, New England Disabled Sports and the adaptive sports community have lost a dear friend, mentor and leader. Dr. Robert “Bob” Harney, MD, passed away peacefully on June 12.

“Dr. Bob,” as he was affectionately known, was an adaptive sports pioneer and tireless leader in Paralympic sports at the local, national and international levels.  He served on various boards of directors including:  Disabled Sports USA’s as Vice President and Past President of New England Disabled Sports.  Dr. Bob was also an innovator in the national and international medical classification of athletes with disabilities, a Professional Ski Instructors of America Level II Alpine and Level III Adaptive Ski Instructor and a full-time, practicing orthopedic surgeon.  He was also a dedicated team physician at Winthrop and Melrose High School in his hometown of Winthrop, MA for over 20 years.

As a volunteer, Dr. Bob was on the International Paralympic Medical Classification team in the sports of alpine skiing and cycling and attended every Winter and Summer Paralympic Games since 1998. In recognition of his outstanding volunteer service and contributions to the development of adaptive sports, particularly in skiing, he was an inductee into the National Disabled Ski Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Jim Winthers Memorial Award.

More than these accomplishments, Dr. Bob was a gracious, generous man who saw the greatness in people of all abilities and encouraged everyone he met.

“My heart is full to the brim with sorrow with the news of Dr. Bob’s passing. He has been a tremendous friend, mentor, leader and partner. His passion, love for people and contributions to the disabled sports community worldwide are unmatched. He will live in my heart and mind as a true inspiration forever and will be dearly missed” said Bob Meserve, president of Disabled Sports USA.

“Dr. Bob has left this world a much better place.  If you were lucky enough to have had him as a part of your life, you are richer for it.  I know that I am. Soar like an eagle my special friend. We will carry on your legacy. ” said Steve Goodwin, vice president of Disabled Sports USA.

“Dr. Bob and his family have been longtime contributors to the Paralympic movement both in the United States and around the world.   His leadership and passion for making a difference has touched the lives of thousands of persons with physical disabilities that dream of competing at the Paralympic Games.   He will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues at the US Olympic Committee and in the Paralympic movement,” stated Charlie Huebner, chief of U.S. Paralympics.


In the words of Anjali Forber-Pratt, an athlete on the U.S. Paralympic Track & Field Team, “Doc was the person athletes could turn to for absolutely anything. He brought the best out in every one of us and was patient enough to help put together the broken pieces when needed, with an added punch line for the soul. He was always there as an advocate for disabled sports and keenly aware of the needs of the athletes. His presence at a sporting event or on our team staff was comforting. Many athletes worldwide will sorely miss him.”

“You can take a look at the amazing accomplishments of Dr. Bob by hanging them on a wall to collect dust for eternity, but the true legacy of this man will always be seen in the smile of every disabled person who learns to turn a ski or ride a bike,” said Geoff Krill, Sports Director of New England Disabled Sports and PSIA/AASI National Team Member.

“Dr. Bob gave his heart and soul to the disabled sports movement and the organizations he was involved in.  Not only did he play a vital role in guiding the success of Disabled Sports USA and New England Disabled Sports, but he also had a profound impact in the medical classification of athletes with disabilities. He will be remembered as a selfless and encouraging family man and sports volunteer,” said Kirk Bauer, JD, executive director of Disabled Sports USA and a disabled Vietnam veteran.

A visionary, true mentor, and dear friend, Dr. Robert Harney will be forever missed by everyone in the adaptive sports community.

Memorial services will be private.  A celebration of Dr. Bob’s life will be held on Friday, June 22, 2012 at Saint John’s The Evangelist Church located at 320 Winthrop Street Winthrop, MA 02152, starting at 4 PM.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: The Dr. Bob Harney Sports Foundation, P.O. Box 520324, Winthrop, MA 02152.


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