The Promise of Hope

Photos courtesy of Lynn Seidemann and @ellen_wheelchairfencing on Instagram

Augusta is home to several Paralympians, many of whom are medal winners. Kinga Kiss-Johnson is a retired U.S. Army sergeant who competed in Para-Archery on Team USA from 2012-2016. She was ranked No. 8 in the world and No. 1 in the United States in Para-recurve (which refers to the type of bow used) in 2016.

Ellen Geddes participated in fencing in the Paralympics. She won her first medal on the World Cup circuit in 2014 and lists winning double top eights in Kyoto in 2018 as her favorite fencing memory. 

Lynn Seidemann is a four-time Paralympian. She won a silver medal in Tennis Doubles in 1992 (Barcelona) with her partner Nancy Olson and a silver medal in Dressage in 2004 (Athens) on the horse Phoenix B.

And the list goes on and on.

The common thread among these Paralympians? They’ve all been part of the Savannah River Region’s growing adaptive sports scene. 

“It is a whole new life that has been filled to the brim, thanks to all those individuals who have made adaptive sports an important part of the community,” says Seidemann. “I am very glad that there are so many people who really want to promote and provide adaptive sports in this area.”

Seidemann participates mostly in wheelchair tennis when playing adaptive sports in the area. 

 “Walton Options has been instrumental in providing the necessary support to help promote this program [wheelchair tennis],” says Seidemann. “I look forward to working with them to make the program even better.”

Walton Options’ independent living philosophy means disabled people should be in control of their choices, not simply living on their own or performing tasks independently, says Tiffany L. Clifford, executive director of Walton Options.

“The most important thing we do is provide lived examples, practical resources and strength as advocates to assure each generation has more access and equity than the past,” says Clifford. “We do that with a variety of our resources, partners, allies and government agencies within the community that will help the individual achieve their personal goal.”

Clifford believes that adaptive sports are a valuable part of a person’s whole life. “People with disabilities want to have enjoyment and we have diverse interests. We want to know that we are welcomed, valued and considered when programs and businesses are established whether it be in sports venues, theaters, parks, etc. We are consumers of products and services, neighbors and colleagues,” she says. 

“We also know that studies show that people who engage in sports are generally happier and healthier. Recently, we have become directly focused on how to help students with disabilities participate because statistics show that those who are engaged in extracurriculars are 80% more likely to graduate. 

“We have long seen research like this as it applied to other minorities, so it is sensible that it applies to students with disabilities as well.  We also know that sports programs are sub-communities that connect people, so as part of our mission, it is vital that we take up the charge to advocate for access through adaptive equipment, modifications and education.”

Among Walton Options’ offerings are adaptive golf, wheelchair tennis and accessible leisure camps. A full list of sports and leisure activities available in the area can be found on the Walton Options website at waltonoptions.org/adaptive-sports.


Seen in the 2024 June/July issue of Augusta magazine.

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