Bethany Zummo competing at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 28, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
To my support system, my foundation, my world:
Behind every athlete is a team, a community of people to support them physically, mentally and emotionally. I am so lucky to have such a vast community to support my Paralympic journey. If I were to write to everyone who supported me, I’d be writing forever.
To each of those people, thank you from the bottom of my heart. To my parents, my husband and my team, you’ve played such a special part in my journey, and I hope this can begin to express my gratitude.
To my parents:
From the first volleyball tryout to every weekend tournament, you were there. When I was afraid to start adaptive sport, you waited and helped me build confidence until I was ready. You let me nail my prosthetic foot to hardwood flooring, because you knew it would make me laugh. We didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a huge turning point for me to feel like I could joke about my leg and embrace who I am. I am so grateful that you raised me to know that I can do anything I set my mind to doing, and that I don’t look at my body as a disability.
Without you, I would never have begun a Paralympic journey. Because of your love, I can take my leg off, move proudly onto a court, and confidently play sitting volleyball without it. Even now, while I’m away training for my second Games, I still feel your encouragement.
I hope you know how much I appreciate you, even when I’m halfway across the country, too exhausted from training to call. Your guidance gave me independence, you gave me confidence. Thank you for giving me every opportunity to succeed and allowing me the space to fail and grow into the person I am today.
To my husband:
Since 2013, you’ve been a part of my Paralympic journey and experience. Watching and supporting each other from the stands, we’ve seen each other grow as athletes and as individuals. I still remember 2014, watching in awe of you playing at worlds, still blushing because prior to the game you changed your shirt in front of me and my whole team laughed.
When you ask me, “o que eu posso oferecer a ela,” here is my reply. You offer me the craziest adventure of my life. Every mistake, every success, every frustration, every moment of joy, you are the person I want to share it with. There are not many people who understand this journey; I am so thankful that you do. You remind me to have gratitude for everything available to me and to stay motivated when I don’t believe in myself. Thank you for giving me the space to love every part of me. Your unconditional love, all the way from Brazil, has meant the world to me.