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Kendall Bailey – the world’s fastest disabled swimmer

Listening to my beloved NPR, I learned about a very inspiring and interesting story today in the NY Times about Kendall Bailey, a mentally and physically disabled swimmer competing in the paralympic games (paralympics are not the same as the special olympics – paralympics are extremely competitive and expensive – basically the top disabled athletes in the world compete).

Bailey has celebral palsy, mental retardation, autism, among a few other disabilities. Yet in the water, he flies. He swims the 100-meter butterfly in a minute or something like that. Amazing. The article talks about some controversy he’s had with the paralypic commitee (hopefully that’s all worked out), but his story is totally inspirational.


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  1. The first day I startd to work with Kendall back in 2005, he exuded a shyness and spent the first several minutes impossibly folded in the front seat of Connie’s (his mother’s) car. After a few minutes of talking sports, the 6’4″ Kendall unfolded out of the vehicle. Over the next couple of years he not only continued to grow warmer as a person but he continued to defy gravity as he excelled beyond 6’6″ tall.
    After a few lessons learned here and there abut public interaction, Kendall quickly became a popular face at the San Diego World Gym where he quiclky learned to team his limbs and developed a hunger for strength training, continually pushing himself to become stonger and more powerful. Sharing his success with the gym members became a motivational factor, and the staff supported his efforts, talking shop with him and greeting him like any other member to walk through the doors.
    There were occasions when it seemed difficult to determine if it was his personal accomplishments in sports and swimming that motivated him, or if it was his involvement as part of a team that drives him. But watching Kendall and his desire to interact with others, it seems that it his human condition to help contribute to the success of others, that makes him a true human being, not just a human doing.
    He truly represents the same moxie that makes heros such as Michael Phelps and his potential to influence others in immeasurable.
    My own selfish desire is to meet Kendall again one day when I have finished my PhD so we can enjoy one of our hikes, a game of fribee-golf, or avoid attacks from nesting hawks that we once were attacked by. Depite everything, i feel he s stil the same person who wants to play ball until the sun goes down.
    I can’t wait to talk to my friend again and i wish him the best of the world.

    Posted by: Alek Rothenberg-Cunningham | August 10, 2008

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018