PHOENIX — The Tokyo Paralympics are set to kick off later in August and fans are ready to cheer on Team USA. The delegation from the United States is diverse and has athletes from across the country, even right here in Arizona.
Here is a breakdown of all the Arizona athletes competing in Tokyo.
Eric Bennett | Surprise, AZ | Para Archery
Bennett calls Surprise his hometown and is a four-time Paralympian. According to his Team USA bio, Bennett began archery when he was just 7 years old. He is also the first American to win a World Championship in the Para Recurve division.
Kaitlyn Verfuerth | Flagstaff, AZ | Paracanoe
The Flagstaff resident is a three-time Paralympian and also plays professionally on the UNIQLO wheelchair tennis tour. When she’s not playing tennis or canoeing, Verfuerth runs her non-profit, Over the Rainbow, which helps children with disabilities. She is also the head coach of the girl’s tennis team at Flagstaff High School.
MORE CONNECTIONS: UArizona will have plenty of connections to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics
Ryan Pinney | Phoenix, AZ | Para-cycling
Pinney is from Phoenix, Ariz. and is a first-time Paralympian. According to his Team USA bio, Pinney served as an inflight refueler in the U.S. Air Force and the Arizona National Guard for 14 years. As far as where he gets his inspiration, he said his wife and daughter give him the motivation to keep going every day.
Erik Hightower | Phoenix, AZ | Para Track and Field
Hightower calls Phoenix home and is a three-time Paralympian. He was born with spina bifida and has been involved in the wheelchair racing world for more than a decade. His wife, Kym Crosby, is his Team USA teammate and is also participating in the track and field events at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Allysa Seely | Glendale, AZ | Paratriathlon
Seely is a Glendale native and is a 2016 Paralympic Gold Medalist in Triathlon. She was diagnosed with Chiari II Malformation, basilar invagination, and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in 2010. Three years later, Seely had her left leg amputated below the knee due to complications and increased spasticity in her foot. Her biggest inspiration is her grandma, her Team USA bio reads.
Whitney Dosty | Tucson, AZ | Sitting Volleyball
Dosty is an outside hitter on the sitting volleyball team and calls Tucson her home. She is a first-time Paralympian and has a sister named Sybil who played basketball at Arizona State University. Dosty began playing sitting volleyball after an ankle injury ended her standing career.
Lora Webster | Phoenix, AZ | Sitting Volleyball
A Phoenix native, Webster is the middle blocker for the sitting volleyball team. She has plenty of experience since she is a five-time Paralympian. Webster has three children with her husband, Paul, and her uncle, Bob Webster, has worked with the U.S. Men's and Women's Hockey teams for more than 25 years. During the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Webster was named "Best Blocker" of the Games with 19 blocks and 38 rebounds.
Chad Cohn | Tucson, AZ | Wheelchair Rugby
Cohn is a Tucson native and a two-time Paralympian. He earned a silver medal with Team USA in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. When he’s not on the court, his Team USA bio says he enjoys gardening, cars, shoes, camping and doing anything outside.
Joe Jackson | Chandler, AZ | Wheelchair Rugby
Jackson is a Chandler native and is a wheelchair user after sustaining an injury while playing football at Hamilton High School. Off the court, Jackson runs his foundation, which assists people with disabilities who are trying to obtain wheelchairs.
Josh Wheeler | Tucson, AZ | Wheelchair Rugby
Wheeler is a Tucson resident and a one-time Paralympian. He is the son of Theresa Sexton and Steven (Sam) Wheeler. His stepfather is Kurt Sexton and he has five brothers and five sisters. Wheeler is also fluent in Spanish and is married to Stephanie Wheeler.
As you can see, there are plenty of Arizona athletes to cheer on as you watch the Tokyo Paralympics. Good luck to all of Team USA, everyone in Arizona will be rooting for you!
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