May 01, 2014

Paralympic Spirit

It was not hard to find the family of Tatyana McFadden in the stands of Laura, the mountain ski center built above Sochi for the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Amid a sea of Russian flags (and a few Ukrainian ones thrown in for good measure) there was a woman waving a star spangled banner and a group of kids shaking a homemade poster that screamed, “Go Tatyana Go!”

About twenty years ago, Tatyana's mother Deborah visited a St. Petersburg orphanage. There she saw a little girl crawling about the playroom on her hands. She had no use of her legs due to spina bifida, and had no wheelchair. But the sparkle in her eyes stayed with Deborah, a US government worker in Russia on an aid mission.

Although doctors told Deborah that Tatyana's problems were so great that she would probably die, she eventually adopted Tatyana nonetheless, shepherded her through numerous operations, and enlisted her in sports to build her endurance and muscle tone.

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