U.S. Paralympians on Thanksgiving traditions and memories

By Jamie M. Blanchard | Nov. 27, 2013, 12 p.m. (ET)
Ian Silverman
For Ian Silverman, the best Thanksgiving tradition is playing board games.

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?

Chuck Aoki, wheelchair rugby
“I have my own personal tradition: the 24 hour pre-Thanksgiving fast. Perhaps this is the definition of a first-world tradition, but it's just how I roll.” 

Megan Fisher, cycling and triathlon
“Before supper, we sit around the table and each person says for what they are most thankful.”

Lee Ford, archery
“German black cake that my mom used to make. The recipe is pretty old and we don't know what it's supposed to be called. It's got Muscat raisins and candied cherries in it. It’s heavy, so a small slice will do. But it's so good and reminds me of my mom, who is no longer with us.”

Josh George, track and field
“Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Growing up we would always alternate between gathering in New York City at my aunt and uncle's place and Virginia at my parents place. Each location offered something fun and different, but the atmosphere was always great. Everybody is relaxed, taking a break from normal, hectic life, and we just enjoy each other’s company. On Thanksgiving Day, we typically go to the movies while the cooking is being done. This invariably leads to an argument about what to see, my brother or myself finally picking the movie, my aunt complaining about how horrible the movie is after we see it. And then years later, my aunt coming back and telling us that, actually, she really likes that movie now. This has happened on multiple occasions.”

Tanner Gers, track and field
“Since we usually have these huge Thanksgiving kind of parties, my parents have various games for people to play, either in a team effort, or individual games. Various things like darts, Rock 'Em Sock 'Em ROBOTS and Ping-Pong.”

Cortney Jordan, swimming
“I don’t feel like I have a unique Thanksgiving tradition. I just eat, watch football and cherish the time I have with my family.”

Kevin McKee, sled hockey
“My favorite Thanksgiving tradition was when I was younger all of us grandchildren would sit around the table and look at all the Black Friday ads and make our Christmas list.”

Augusto Perez, Nordic skiing
“My favorite tradition is setting up the Christmas tree with my wife and kids and making the coquito for the neighbors.”

Jenny Sichel, rowing
“Finding the chocolate turkey pop on my plate when I sit to begin supper.  I have  a small sweet tooth.” 

Ian Silverman, swimming
“We love to play board games.  Everyone is very competitive and it gets really funny and loud.” 

What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?

Megan Fisher, cycling and paratriathlon
“I don't have one single favorite memory.  I have fond memories from nearly every Thanksgiving.  I love how Thanksgiving is an opportunity to bring people together to enjoy each other's company and share in good food.  Perhaps my favorite memories are from childhood.  After dinner, sitting at the ‘kids table’, my cousins and I would go to the basement and play. We would make forts out of old boxes and goof around while the grown-ups talked upstairs. It was a blast.”

Lee Ford, archery
“My favorite memory is the year that my mom had 15 relatives over and the turkey fell onto the floor right as it came out of the oven. We were sworn to secrecy and no one knew. Besides, we had scrubbed that floor that morning, company was coming. The whole house was pristine.”

Josh George, track and field
“There isn't a single memory that really stands out but last year was a pretty amazing Thanksgiving. Not only was the meal amazing, but my cousin had just gotten engaged and we spent the evening drinking champagne and toasting her.” 

Kevin McKee, sled hockey
“My favorite Thanksgiving memory was last Thanksgiving is when my dad under cooked the turkey. He tried to make us eat it because he thought it was cooked, which almost gave us all food poisoning.”

Augusto Perez, Nordic skiing
“All of the memories are special. My favorite is seeing my twins help my wife cook and decorate.” 

Jenny Sichel, rowing
”When I lived in Scotland during Thanksgiving, I cooked an entire dinner for my rowing teammates there.  I was shocked to realize that my British and Scottish friends were enjoying their first Thanksgiving and I had not burned anything. I haven’t let my family know about this though – they still think I stink at cooking. It was a great night and my first Thanksgiving away from home.” 

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