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U.S. Paralympics

U.S. Paralympics

Thanksgiving traditions, memories of U.S. Paralympians

By Jamie M. Blanchard | Nov. 21, 2012, 11 a.m. (ET)
Lex GilletteFor Lex Gillette, who owns three silver medals from men's F11 long jump at the Paralympic Games, one of his most vivid Thanksgiving memories is one of the last Thanksgivings with his sight.

With one day until Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, USParalympics.org asked some of the nation's top Paralympic athletes to talk about everything Thanksgiving, including their favorite Thanksgiving traditions and memories. Stay tuned throughout the week for more Thanksgiving chatter with U.S. Paralympians and hopefuls. 

Wednesday's questions

What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

Victoria Arlen, swimming
“My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is just being able to have all my family and friends together and laughing and catching up. Were all so busy so it's nice to have a day where we cook a beautiful breakfast, watch the parade, laugh and prepare for Thanksgiving dinner. My brothers always play football and my mom and dad cook and bake. Then my cousins come over and we all play games and hang out.”

Cat Bouwkamp, wheelchair fencing
“The best tradition on Thanksgiving would have to be the Macy's Parade, watching all the performers and seeing all the winter cheer.”

Steve Cash, sled hockey
“My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is going out into the backyard for some football and being able to enjoy my time with family members that I don’t get to see too often otherwise. It is something I look forward to every year.”

Ryan Estep, wheelchair fencing
“My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is the skeet (clay bird) competition that we have every year.”

Lex Gillette, track and field
“My favorite Thanksgiving tradition would have to be my family holding hands and circling up to pray before dinner. It makes me feel as though we are truly one family, united, all for one and one for all.”

Emmy Kaiser, wheelchair tennis
“We don't really have any traditions other than my Uncle Jim is the one who always cuts up the turkey.”

Taylor Lipsett, sled hockey
“I would have to say watching the Dallas Cowboy’s game with my family, no matter how bad we are.”

Angela Madsen, track and field
“Surfing. When I am home or any place near the beach, I like to surf on holidays, even Thanksgiving.”

J. Dee Marinko, sitting volleyball
“I would have to say my favorite memory is when I was little, we would get all of the cousins and go out and play a game of football after we ate. Now since we all have kids, it is fun to watch our kids go out and play a game of ball.”

Asya Miller, goalball
“I love having a family game night.”

Kerri Morgan, track and field
“On Thanksgiving, I love spending time with family, playing games, eating a lot of food and watching sports.”

Greta Neimanas, para-cycling
“It’s not a tradition, really, but it’s so nice to get together with family and friends for the holiday and simply spend time with each other. Living away from ‘the nest’ means that family time is something that gets sacrificed so seeing everyone is always a treat.”

Justin Zook, swimming
“To be completely honest, I have not always spent Thanksgiving with my own family. Many times I was located somewhere different than my family and spent the holiday with friends or other family members. My favorite memories are getting to sit down and watch football with my Grandpa Gene and my dad Stuart.”


What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?

Victoria Arlen, swimming
“My favorite Thanksgiving memory would have to be when I had been in the hospital for several months and the doctors allowed me to go home for a few hours to spend time with my family. I truly realized how thankful I was to be alive and spend this precious time with my family and friends.”

Cat Bouwkamp, wheelchair fencing
“My favorite Thanksgiving memory would probably be when my entire family came in from Tennessee, Colorado and Michigan. It was so great seeing everyone together.”

Steve Cash, sled hockey
“My favorite Thanksgiving memory is when our dog, Ashley, somehow managed to get into the fridge and help herself to the leftover turkey all while we were in the other room. She must have heard how good it was."

Kelly Crowley, para-cycling
“One year my cousins and I were laughing so uproariously and uncontrollably in the ‘kids’ dining room – some of my cousins were well into their 30s – that the adults had to come in and ask us to turn it down a notch. I think that was the year my cousin introduced us to the ‘mashed potato factory’. But then again, we've had so many meals in that room, they all kind of blur together into one loud, silly memory.”

Ryan Estep, wheelchair fencing
“Playing checkers with my Uncle Doyle when I was younger was always fun. We still play but the games seemed more intense when I was younger. Great memories.”

Lex Gillette, track and field
“Although it is really vague, I would have to say that my favorite Thanksgiving memory was when I had the ability to visually see my family during the holiday, having the chance to see my family's interaction and the happiness on their smiling faces.”

Emmy Kaiser, wheelchair tennis
“There isn't really one Thanksgiving memory that stands out since every year it always consists of great food and fun conversations.”

J. Dee Marinko, sitting volleyball
“I would have to say it would be Thanksgiving 2003.  My mom just got done with her treatments for breast cancer and we all were there to celebrate her being there and clean from the cancer.”

Kerri Morgan, track and field
“Spending Thanksgiving with my family is always a great memory and helping my grandma make homemade stuffing.”

Justin Zook, swimming
“My favorite memories are getting to sit down and watch football with my Grandpa Gene and my dad Stuart. Many times I would have surgery during the winter months, which means Thanksgiving did not include a lot of outdoor activities for me. Getting to sit around with my father and grandpa is something I will never forget.”

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