2008 U.S. Olympians and Paralympians Honored at Air Force Football GameMembers of the 2008 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams were honored at Thursday night's Air Force Falcons football game at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. During half-time at Falcon Stadium, the athletes stood in the north end zone and were recognized for their accomplishments before more than 25,000 spectators. As they were introduced to the crowd, the Paralympians and Olympians waved while some proudly showed off their hard-earned Beijing medals. Upon seeing the athletes, the entire stadium applauded and a section of Air Force Academy cadets spontaneously chanted "U-S-A."
Of the five U.S. Paralympians present, four won medals in Beijing. Those recognized included Asya Miller (Lapeer, Mich.), Robin Theryoung (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and coach Ken Armbruster (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who won gold in women's goalball, wheelchair rugby gold medalist Jason Regier (Denver, Colo.) and Allison Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who raced to a silver medal in women's road cycling. Judo athlete Myles Porter (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was also honored.
Olympians acknowledged at half-time included cyclist Michael Blatchford (Cypress, Calif.), modern pentathlon's Eli Bremer (Monument, Colo.), weightlifter Carissa Gump (Essex Junction, Vermont), triathlete Hunter Kemper (Longwood, Fla.), judo team members Ryan Reser (Denver, Colo.) and Taylor Takata (Wahiawa, Hawaii) and shooter Jason Turner (Rochester, N.Y.).
Prior to the game, the athletes posed for pictures and signed autographs for fans. Children, adults, cheerleaders, cadets and Falcons' mascot "The Bird" provided a steady stream of excitement and support for over an hour as they greeted the athletes with a sense of genuine awe and appreciation. It was an exciting opportunity for all of the supporters, who were thrilled to meet their heroes and touch a gold medal. Many fans conversed with the athletes for several minutes, sharing personal stories of admiration and listening intently as the athletes told tales of their triumphs.