Paralympic Gold Medalist Ann Cody Wins National Council of Youth Sports Award

Oct. 24, 2008, 12:09 p.m. (ET)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 2, 2008) - Ann Cody has dedicated her career to ensuring that young people with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from sports.  Acquiring a disability at 16 years of age, Cody understands the extraordinary benefits sports has on a young life and the many barriers young people with disabilities face in their participation. Cody is a Paralympic gold medalist in athletics and competed on three U.S. Paralympic Teams. 

Whether advocating for the creation of physical activity standards for people with disabilities or shaping landmark legislation, Cody's leadership is making a significant difference on overcoming the obstacles, developing young leaders and advancing the lives of youth with physical disabilities through sport and healthy lifestyles. 

For her tenacity and leadership Ann Cody of Washington, D.C. is being recognized as the NCYS Hershey's STRIVE National Administrator of the Year. She is the director of partnerships and public policy for BlazeSports America headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

STRIVE stands for Sports Teach Respect, Initiative, Values and Excellence and the award honors adult leaders for their "heartfelt passion, enthusiastic commitment and contagious spirit to help kids succeed in youth sports activities."  This year, the NCYS Hershey's STRIVE Award will be presented to a national administrator, a volunteer, a coach, and a local administrator. Honorees were nominated by team members, parents or colleagues and judged by a panel of NCYS officials.

While rising to the elite ranks of her sport, Cody pursued a master's degree and taught aspiring young athletes and their coaches training principles, best practices and techniques in wheelchair racing, injury prevention, sports psychology and racing strategies. 

Cody has made numerous guest appearances at elementary and middle schools to educate young people with and without disabilities about Paralympic sport and the Games. Through her efforts, opportunities for girls and women with disabilities are on the rise.  Cody leads the way to ensure that the quality, quantity, diversity, and availability of sports, physical activity and healthy lifestyle programs are equivalent to those available to persons without disabilities.

Sports are more than just a way to recreate or compete - they are a documented means to healthy minds and bodies. The direct involvement of Paralympic and nationally and internationally ranked athletes with physical disabilities as coaches and camp counselors in the BlazeSports America programs provides strong role models for youth participating in the program - role models who are leading full, active and productive lives and who perform at the highest level of sport - and who also have a physical disability. 

Sally S. Johnson, NCYS Executive Director, noted that the lack of recognition given to outstanding adult leaders involved in youth sports prompted NCYS to create the STRIVE awards five years ago. "Honoring America's hometown heroes on a national scale gives them the praise they deserve," Johnson said. "It is awe-inspiring to pay tribute to these exceptional individuals who devote countless hours each week, all while juggling full-time careers, families, and other commitments."

Cody will be honored on Sunday, November 2, 2008 at the Indoor Wheelchair Soccer National Championship on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Georgia just outside of Atlanta.  The STRIVE event presentation is hosted by the NCYS and The Hershey Company.  During the celebration, Cody will receive a check for $2,500 which she has announced will be donated to BlazeSports America.