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Mary Kate Callahan, 19, has her athletic focus targeted on IRONMAN Louisville in October. As an infant a virus that settled in her spinal cord left Callahan a T8-T10 paraplegic. Her disability hasn’t deterred the University of Arizona psychology student from anything she has put her mind to. She has participated in just about every sport imaginable. In 2014 Callahan notched two wins, in addition to five podium finishes, in para-triathlons.
In high school, Callahan took on an advocacy role and was instrumental in forcing the Illinois High School Association to create opportunities for disabled swimmers to compete at the state championship level. As a result of her efforts, Callahan and six other girls were the first athletes with a disabilities to compete at an Illinois state championship swim meet.
Bitterly disappointed to learn that the women’s para-triathlon event would not be part of the Olympics in 2016, Callahan has turned her sights to IRONMAN racing. “I’m super excited to challenge myself in a whole new way in the sport of triathlon,” Callahan told IRONMAN.com this week. “I think hearing those words, ‘Mary Kate Callahan, you are an IRONMAN’ is what is going to drive me in training leading up to Louisville.”
Chicago, IL (August 21, 2014) – Paratriathlon star Mary Kate Callahan has been named Variety the Children’s Charity of Illinois’ first Live to Achieve program ambassador. Callahan, of La Grange, IL is well on her way to achieving her dream of representing the United States in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. To help her realize this goal, Variety of Illinois will provide Mary Kate with the financial assistance necessary to train, travel and compete over the next two years leading up to the Paralympics.
“Variety of Illinois has been able to let children continue to chase after their dreams,” said Mary Kate. “I’m so excited to be a part of the Variety family and I’m even more excited to see what’s in the future for Variety. I hope to be able to show other kids that the sky really is the limit as long as they believe in themselves.”
Mary Kate will serve as the first ambassador for Variety of Illinois’ Live to Achieve, a grant program that promotes active, healthy lifestyles for children with disabilities around the state. In this role, Mary Kate will promote Variety’s groundbreaking grant program through public appearances, social media, and sharing the Variety message at competitions, regionally, nationally and worldwide – including the upcoming World Championships in Edmonton on August 30th and the National Championships in Tempe on September 21st. The former Fenwick standout is preparing to begin her sophomore year at University of Arizona, where she has excelled with the collegiate team, the Tricats. More on Mary Kate’s inspirational story is available by clicking here.
“I know firsthand the importance of sport in the lives of young people with disabilities,” said Variety of Illinois president Linda Mastandrea, herself a Paralympic gold medalist. “We welcome Mary Kate to the Variety family and hope she can help inspire the next generation of successful young people with disabilities – both on and off the playing field.”
About Live to Achieve
The Live to Achieve program helps children in Illinois pursue their dreams of sporting excellence by providing grants to eligible applicants for assistance with travel, training and other costs necessary to help pave the way. For children with disabilities who have the potential to become great athletes, the time, training and travel it takes to achieve that level of greatness – from the local, state, national to Paralympic stages – takes resources…resources that many families don’t have. Variety of Illinois launched the Live to Achieve grant program to help fill that gap.