Countdown to Sochi: Three days

By Jamie M. Blanchard | March 04, 2014, 3 p.m. (ET)
Rob, Brocton and Danelle Umstead
Rob and Danelle Umstead with son Brocton.

U.S. Paralympians have been called a lot of things. Athletic. Inspiring. Tough. And sometimes, motherly. With three days until the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, March 7-16 in Russia, learn more about the three moms on the 2014 U.S. Paralympic Team.

Monica Bascio, cross-country skiing

Following her debut at the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in cross-country skiing, Monica Bascio took half of the 2007-08 season off to give birth to her son, Henry, who is now 6 years old. Since, Bascio has excelled in motherhood as well as on the field of play. She competed in cross-country skiing at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games then made her debut in cycling at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Bascio returns to cross-country for the 2014. "I really embrace the opportunity to be everything and go above and beyond not only as a mother, but in a balanced lifestyle as an athlete," Bascio said.

Penny Greely, wheelchair curling

Penny Greely helped the United States win a bronze medal in the inaugural women’s sitting volleyball at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. Afterward, she retired from the game to focus on her personal life, which included husband David and stepson Nathan. “It got to be too much with the traveling and all of that,” she said. But the Paralympic Movement came calling again in 2010. After trying wheelchair curling for the first time, she decided to compete at the world championship trials, and ended up making the team. Moving forward with a bid for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games was a difficult choice but Greely had the support of her husband and stepson. “I decided to go for it,” she said. “My step-son, who is 17 now, was old enough for me to be able to make a commitment to a new sport. He was young when I was playing sitting volleyball so I had to worry about him a little bit more when I was off traveling.” Greely, who will not be joined in Sochi by her family, is also a case worker with Brown County in Wisconsin.

Danelle Umstead, alpine skiing

Danelle Umstead and her husband Rob, who acts as her guide in alpine skiing, are parents to son Brocton, now 6 years old, as well as retired guide dog Bettylyn and new guide dog, Aziza. “Brocton thinks we’re the best skiers in the world,” she laughs. Brocton will watch his mom and dad compete at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games from home with Bettylyn, while Aziza will make the trip. “Racing in five events, we would not have much time to see him,” said Danelle, who won two bronze medals at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. “Knowing he is safe at home will be one less distraction for us as we prepare to compete.” Her advice to her son as he grows older? “Never give up, work hard for what you want—no matter what life throws at you,” she said. “Hard work leads to success.”