The Power of Dreams Unfolding

By: Christy Fritts

This year’s Paralympic theme, “Games Wide Open,” isn’t just a slogan—it reflects the limitless opportunities that await athletes from across the globe. Aligning with the CAF mission to empower those with physical disabilities through the power of sports and by removing barriers to participation, CAF ensures that all athletes have the tools needed to succeed both in competition and in life.

Supporting over 55% of Paralympians at some point throughout their journey, CAF continues to cheer for athletes in the CAF community. The journey for these athletes is nothing short of impressive, spotlighting CAF’s impact and the transformative power of sports. Their stories of resilience and victory provide us all a glimpse into the effects of nurturing the dreams and ambitions of athletes facing physical disabilities. These narratives do more than inspire; they highlight the critical importance of support and resources in achieving athletic greatness.

As we countdown to the 2024 Paralympic Games, let’s rally behind these incredible competitors as they prepare to show the world that anything is possible on the grand stage in Paris this September.

Opening Ceremony of the Worlds Biggest Stage








Meet some of the qualified paralympians



At 11 months old, Steve had surgery to remove a spinal tumor which resulted in the compression of his spinal cord. Consequently, the surgery resulted in incomplete paraplegia and paralysis of his lower extremities. Steve began his wheelchair basketball career as a sophomore in high school, leading them to the team’s first National Championship in 2005 where he was named the tournament MVP. As a co-captain of the USA Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team, he led the American men to their first Paralympic gold medal since 1988 at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games and defended the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. Steve is a four-time Paralympian and three-time medalist and was just named to his fifth Paralympic team for the Paris Paralympic Games in 2024.


Bailey, a women’s wheelchair basketball athlete from Johns Creek, Georgia, plays at the University of Alabama and earned a bronze medal with Team USA at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Diagnosed with osteosarcoma at age 10, she underwent a rotationplasty to save her chance at an active life, despite facing eight months of chemotherapy. Bailey joined Team USA in 2018 after an invitation to tryouts and has since won two national championships with Alabama (2021, 2022), a gold medal at the U25 World Championships (2019), and silver medals at the Parapan American Games (2019) and Americas Cup (2022).


Kelly’s journey from a dedicated Army medic with the 82nd Airborne Division to a championship-winning para triathlete is remarkable. Her life took a challenging turn in 2013 when she was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, leading to the amputation of her leg. Despite her adversities, Elmlinger excelled in her new sporting career, clinching titles such as the 2018 USA Paratriathlon National Championships and the 2021 World Triathlon Para Championship. Her first Paralympic appearance was at the Tokyo 2020 Games, where she finished seventh. Off the track, Kelly is a devoted mother to her daughter Jayden, who she regards as her biggest motivator. She passionately teaches her that disabilities do not limit one’s abilities, continuously shaping a perspective of equality and capability.


The Hopefuls: Eyes on the Prize



Despite facing a life-altering accident that severed his left foot during his sophomore season at the University of Central Oklahoma, Derek’s passion for athletics only intensified. Three years post accident, Derek shifted his focus to track and field, leading him to the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center in California. Loccident’s perseverance and dedication helped him secure a remarkable second-place finish in the long jump T64 category, signaling his arrival on the international stage at the National Championships. His journey reached new heights at the world championships, where he clinched a silver medal in the long jump T64 event, showcasing his extraordinary talent and determination. His quest for a spot at the Paris Paralympics is a powerful narrative of overcoming personal setbacks through sports.


CAF’s Northeast Programs & Communities Relations Manager and a USAT Elite Paratriathlete, is aiming to be the first US female athlete with an upper extremity disability to compete in Paratriathlon at the Paris 2024 Paralympics. She was born with a congenital limb difference of her right arm, but this difference has never stopped her. Kelly wants every little girl/woman like her out there to see that it’s possible to have representation of all the disabilities at the games. Kelly has been competing in National and International level races since 2018 where she has been fortunate to stand on the podium multiple times earning medals for the USA. Kelly is a USAT Level 1 Coach, USAT Level 1 Paratriathlon Coach and extremely passionate about sharing her love for adaptive sports.


Alicia was a competitive, non-disabled cyclist and Nordic skier when she fell from a 40’ tree as a teenager, becoming paralyzed from the waist down. Determined to return to what she once loved, Alicia took up handcycling and quickly gained momentum in the sport. Alicia made the National Team in and competed in the World Championships in 2002. After taking 9 years off to raise her daughter as a single parent, Alicia returned to racing in 2011, making the US Paralympic Team in 2012. Since then, she has maintained her status, competing in 2 Paralympic Games, numerous World Cups, and and joined the CAF Women’s Handcycling Team in 2019. In her free time Alicia enjoys reading, outdoor activities of any kind, traveling, and spending time with her teenage daughter.