President Obama has tapped U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth to lead the U.S. delegation to the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The games are scheduled to run from March 7th to March 16th.
“It is a tremendous honor to be part of the Paralympic games with such heroic athletes,” said Duckworth, a combat veteran who uses a wheelchair. “It’s a sad fact that in many countries, the disabled are hidden, considered to be an embarrassment and not afforded the accommodations needed for them to lead productive lives. The athletes of the Paralympic games are an inspiration for the disabled citizens of the world and an example of what we can accomplish.”
While in Sochi, the American delegation will attend various events, meet with U.S. Paralympic athletes and attend the opening ceremony.
In 2004, Duckworth became one of the first women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her Blackhawk helicopter was hit by an RPG on Nov. 12, 2004 and she lost her legs and partial use of her right arm in the explosion. She declined a military medical retirement and continues to drill as a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.
Duckworth, who lives in Hoffman Estates, Ill., with her husband, served as assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs before being elected to Congress in 2012.