|02-28-2002, 06:38 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2001
Rookie Paralympian is Greased Lightning on Powder
Rookie Paralympian is Greased Lightning on Powder -- Amputee Alpine Skier Delivers Ability-Focused Message That Sticks
CHICAGO, Feb 28, 2002 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Sandy Dukat wants America watching when she screams downhill on one ski at speeds approaching 60 miles per hour at the world's ultimate competition for athletes with physical disabilities: the 2002 Winter Paralympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 7-16.
A rookie nominee to the U.S. Paralympic Alpine Ski Team, the Ohio native's right foot was amputated during childhood due to a limb deficiency. She began skiing just four years ago at The Hartford(R) Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge, Colo., the nation's largest winter sports festival for people with physical disabilities.
The Hartford, title sponsor of the ski event and a leading disability insurer through its subsidiary, Hartford Life Insurance Company, six months ago signed Dukat to The Hartford Team Ability(R), world-class athletes who share The Hartford's focus on abilities. Through their examples, Team members educate American businesses and communities about what people with disabilities can achieve.
Dukat explains, "The difference between being able-bodied and disabled can be a split second. But life doesn't end there. People with disabilities can excel in all aspects of life - athletically, professionally, and personally. Sports is one of the most visible demonstrations of this, and in general, athletics can be a valuable link in helping bring people back to active and productive lives."
Dukat is committed to raising awareness of disabled sports, "The skis that I use are very similar to those used by world cup Olympic athletes. The differences are super light outriggers that serve as my poles and which I use for balance points, and the fact that I race on one ski and able-bodied skiers race on two."
Proud to be representing America in the Paralympics, Dukat cites the country's recent sense of unity. "This seems like a great time to recognize athletes with disabilities as equally committed, accomplished, and worthy of watching -- not because of our differences, but in spite of them."
Dukat will compete in four races in Salt Lake City, two technical events: the slalom and giant slalom, and two speed events: the super giant slalom and downhill.
Dukat also is an information specialist at the National Center of Physical Activity and Disability at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Serving on its Athletic Advisory Board, she speaks on behalf of disabled sports to Chicago Public Schools and social organizations, and volunteers with amputee children and their families.
The Hartford (NYSE: HIG) is one of the nation's largest insurance and financial services companies, with 2001 revenues of $15.1 billion. As of Dec. 31, 2001, The Hartford had assets of $181.2 billion and shareholders' equity of $9.0 billion. The company is a leading provider of investment products, life insurance and group benefits; automobile and homeowners products; commercial property and casualty insurance; and reinsurance.