Adaptive Sports: Reconnecting With What You Love



Lindsey Runkel playing sled hockey

Now that we are done rooting for the USA teams to do their best in the Olympic Winter Games, we want to shift focus to the Paralympics Winter Games that are about to begin on March 8th, also in PyeongChang.

Let’s give a shout-out to some amazing athletes in our own state – members of the Gaylord Sports Association.

An injury or illness can change a life in an instant. “We see people with some really significant injuries,” says Katie Joly, Program Director at Gaylord Sports Association. “Some people say, ok, how am I going to get back to doing things? Others think, my life is over.”

Sports can be a way to put life back together

The Gaylord Sports Association believes that life for these people is not over, and sports is a way they can put their lives back together. The Sports Association offers adaptive sports and recreational programs to anyone in Connecticut with a physical disability or visual impairment, ages 16 and older. Veterans with PTSD are also eligible. There are 15 different sports available, from golf and tennis, to skiing and sled hockey.

Sports Association members gain back their confidence, build their skills, and compete with the best. The Sports Association is a Paralympic bronze-level sport club, and a chapter member of Disabled Sports USA, whose motto is, “If I can do this, I can do anything!”

Sports Association members are enthusiastic in their comments about the programs. “It makes me feel like I’m a badass, and that’s something that we need,” says Joe Stone. “We lose our confidence oftentimes when we become injured, because we think that we can’t to what we used to do. And then we find sport and it gives us that self-confidence again that we can do not just what we can on the court, but also in our other facets of life as well. It gives us confidence in many other areas.”

Lindsey Runkel plays on the association’s sled hockey team, the Gaylord Wolfpack. Sled hockey players use special equipment. They strap themselves into a chair-like “bucket” mounted on a metal frame and attached to a sled and use two sticks with picks on one end to propel themselves across the ice. The blade end of the hockey stick is used to move the puck around the ice.

After her injury, Lindsey harbored some big doubts about her future. “The first thing that came to mind when I realized I was hurt was, what am I going to do? I’m an athlete, I’m such an active person. How am I going to live that life now that I can’t move?” she says.

Today, she has regained her athletic skills and competitive spirit, and credits her team members for cheering her on. “The sled hockey team I’m on, we set each other up for success,” she shares. “I hadn’t gotten a goal all year, and being the new player, the team wanted me to get a goal. Everyone made it their goal to help me get a goal.” With the team’s encouragement and support, she did get her first goal.

Participation in sports provides social connection for association members, even those who are new to sports. Jonathan Sigworth says, “After my injury, my social circle dwindled, as it does for many people, and sports surprisingly to me became one of my main social outlets.” But the association has also helped him successfully reintegrate back into the community with confidence.

We salute these athletes who have refused to give up, who are fighting back after catastrophic injuries and illnesses, and are experiencing life to the fullest.

For more information about the Gaylord Sports Assocation, call 203-284-2772, or email

Like the Gaylord Sports Association, we are fully committed to helping people with special needs live their best life. Our special needs trust attorneys have helped countless individuals navigate the complexities of new and unfamiliar terrain and make the most of their financial resources. Contact us when you could use a hand.



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