Newly elected member of the International Paralympic Committee Council Jon McCullough of the U.S. looks on during the Closing Ceremony at the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on Sept. 9, 2012 in London.
U.S. Paralympian Jon McCullough has passed away after losing his battle with cancer.
The following is attributable to USOC CEO Scott Blackmun:
McCullough, who represented the United States on the seven-a-side football team at the Atlanta 1996 and Athens 2004 Paralympic Games was elected to the International Paralympic Committee Athletes' Council at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, a Games which also saw him take part in the Torch Relay.
“The USOC is extremely saddened to learn of Jon McCullough’s untimely passing,” said United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun. “Jon was a true champion of sport who made a tremendous impact on both the Olympic and Paralympic movements. As a Coast Guard veteran, two-time U.S. Paralympian in soccer and as a leader, he made great contributions to sport development in the U.S. and around the world. Both within and outside of the sports world, he impacted countless lives with his positive attitude and passion for life.”
"The whole Paralympic Movement is deeply saddened by this tragic news and our thoughts are with Jon's family and friends as this terrible time,” IPC President Sir Philip Craven said. "Jon was an unbelievably inspirational and popular man, an absolute joy to be around, and a huge advocate for the Paralympic Movement. He had boundless energy, a permanent smile on his face and always made an impression where ever he went. He will be sorely missed by us all."
He was executive director of the Paralympic Sport Club BlazeSports, an Atlanta based non-profit organization founded for the 1996 Paralympics to promote sports for athletes with an impairment.
Chair of the Athlete Council of the US Soccer Federation, McCullough also represented the sport of football on the USOC Advisory Council for the term 2004-2008. At the Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games, he acted as athlete coordinator, a role he also served at the Torino 2006 and Beijing 2008 Games.
McCullough also worked with a variety of international organizations, notably, with the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, where he developed an international conflict resolution program. He first implemented the program with groups of youth in the former Yugoslavia who were impaired from the war - bringing former foes together in the sport of soccer, putting them on the same teams and helping them work through conflict. The matches were broadcast on national television and featured in Transcending Sport, a film by the World Bank on promoting heath and sports for disabled youth as part of a global initiative.
"Jon was a great friend of so many athletes, and the Paralympic Movement has lost a true friend today. He always put athletes first and foremost and he will be sadly missed by so many, especially all of us on the IPC Athletes' Council,” said Todd Nicholson, IPC Athletes' Council chairperson. "Jon always was a fighter, and he fought the cancer until the end. His fighting spirit will be continued by each and every one of us as we ensure his legacy lives on."
Away from the Paralympic Movement, Jon was deputy director of Man Up, a global campaign to activate youth to stop violence against women and girls. As a volunteer at the South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup, he served as a Facilitator and Keynote speaker at the ManUp Summit, a week long program with 150 delegates from all over the world developing domestic initiatives to stop violence against women and girls using sport and music as a tool. While in South Africa, he also took on the responsibility to act as facilitator and keynote speaker for FIFA's Football for Hope youth initiative.
In 1989 while serving the U.S. Coast Guard, McCullough suffered a traumatic head injury and permanent neck and shoulder damage in a high seas accident. Since that accident, he had dedicated much of his life to promoting and developing opportunities for individuals with an impairment.