Panel of paralympic athletes to discuss possibilities in face of adversity at Oct. 13 URI Honors Colloquium

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862 |

KINGSTON, R.I. — October 5, 2020 — The University of Rhode Island and the wider community will have the opportunity to interact Oct. 13 with five Paralympic athletes who have each made strides to change the world of sports. The panel members are Cheri Blauwet M.D., Sir Philip Craven, Anjali Forber-Pratt, Ph.D., Brad Parks, and John Register.

The panel discussion is  part of URI’s Honors Colloquium, “Disability in the 21st Century.” This year’s theme coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act, thus the lectures all focus on what is possible in the face of adversity, rather than what is impossible.

The panel discussion, “Disability and Sports,” will take place virtually Tuesday, Oct. 13  at 7 p.m. The link to the lecture can be found on the day of the event in the colloquium schedule, next to the name of the presentation.

Cheri Blauwet M.D., is an American paralympic wheelchair racer, physician and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. She is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and sports medicine. Blauwet competed in the 2004 and the 2008 Paralympics, and has been nominated for the ESPY Award, the Laureus World Sports Award, and the Women’s Sports Foundation Athlete of the Year.

Sir Philip Craven is an English sports administrator and former paralympic wheelchair basketball player, swimmer and track and field athlete. He was the president of the International Paralympic Committee, the chairman of the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association and is a member of several olympic committees.

Anjali Forber-Pratt, Ph.D., is an American wheelchair racer and assistant professor at Vanderbilt University. She competed in sprint events at the paralympic level, and previously held the World Record for the 200-meter race. Currently, she teaches in the Department of Human & Organizational Development where her research is focused on disability identity, inclusion, and disability sport. She was honored by the White House in 2013 as a “Champion of Change”.

Originally a freestyle skiing prodigy, Brad Parks switched to playing tennis after a skiing accident left him paralyzed from the hips down. Parks is widely considered the pioneer of wheelchair tennis. He was the first president of the International Wheelchair Tennis Federation, which became part of the International Tennis Federation. This became the first sport for athletes with disabilities to become part of a sports federation that includes all athletes.

John Register is a paralympic track and field athlete, veteran, and motivational speaker. After leaving the U.S. Army, he qualified for the Olympics twice. He was expected to compete as a hurdler with the 1996 Olympic team when a misstep over a hurdle caused a serious injury leading to the amputation of a leg. Only 18 months after the injury, he joined the 1996 Paralympic Team as a swimmer. He later helped create the United States Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Military Program, which uses sports to assist in the recovery of wounded, ill or injured service members.

Lauren Poirier, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations and English major, wrote this press release.