Carrying the Flame

Carrying the Flame

Writting by Rosalind Fournier, Photography by Beau Gustafson

The allure of Paralympic sports has come into its own, with more tickets sold for London 2012 than for any previous edition of the Paralympic Games. These three Birmingham athletes will put their heart and soul into the games, running through September 9th in London.

Jennifer Schuble

Upon entering the international cycling scene, Jennifer Schuble didn’t take long to make her mark. She has broken numerous American and world records in the relatively short time she has been competing.

Schuble attended the United States Military Academy at West Point until a traumatic brain injury sustained in a hand-to-hand combat class ended her career. In 2002, she was in an automobile accident that damaged her right arm. Then two years later, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). None of these setbacks held her back.

Schuble grew up playing sports, but as her MS has progressed, cycling has become the sport she can play in which her condition causes the least effect. She competed in her first international Paralympic cycling competition in 2007 and quickly rose through the ranks, earning a gold and two silver medals at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.

Along with cycling and working a full-time job as an engineer for Mercedes-Benz, Schuble enjoys her English bulldog, playing cello and restoring her home.

Aimee Bruder’s personal motto is “Small, but mighty,” which she applies to all aspects of her life. “I will try anything,” she says. “You give me a challenge and I will do it.”

Aimee Bruder

Bruder, who was born cerebral palsy,  was certainly up to the challenge at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, where she returned to the podium after missing out on the medals in 2004. Bruder’s best games to date came in 1996, when she won three bronze medals in Atlanta. After winning four medals at the 2006 IPC Swimming World Championships, though, there’s reason to believe that she could have another big performance in September.

Bruder graduated with honors in 1998 from Eastern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in recreation, parks and administration. She currently works at Lakeshore Foundation, an official U.S. Olympic & Paralympic training site. Bruder has also volunteered with physically disabled kids as part of the Paralympic Academy program and Lakeshore Foundation youth department programs.

Mary Alison Milford says she’s always had the dream of playing for the U.S. Paralympic Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team. In 2008, Milford was finally able to make her dream a reality, playing for a U.S. team that won its second consecutive gold medal.

Milford was introduced to the wheelchair basketball community by Doug Garner of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association and began playing with the Arkansas Junior Rollin’ Razorbacks at the age of 10. When she was in high school, she starting looking at colleges where she could compete at the collegiate and elite level.

Mary Alison Milford

Milford is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she studied Spanish and public relations. Her other interests include playing the cello, traveling and outdoor recreation. She will be playing for the  two-time defending Paralympic gold medalists (Athens, Beijing) and current World Champions in the London Games.

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