ESPN’S Superior Beings Presentation:

Published: February 18, 2004
105

ESPN’S Superior Beings Presentation: Extraordinary Athletes With Disabilities Use Sports to Change Misfortune to Triumph

ESPN Original Entertainment (EOE) has produced a compelling documentary that celebrates the extraordinary achievements of several disabled athletes. Superior Beings is a one-hour show that highlights excellence and the ability of sports to transform lives. After a successful first run, ESPN2 will air an encore presentation on Friday, February 20 at 3:30 p.m. ET. The program was developed in partnership with DisneyHand, worldwide outreach for The Walt Disney Company and Team ESPN, the corporate outreach program of ESPN, Inc. A DC preview will be held Wednesday, February 18 from 4-6 p.m. at 102 Irving Street, NW.

Tricia Downing was a competitive cyclist on a training ride when she collided with a car and sustained a spinal cord injury. Her back was shattered and broken. Her Recreation Therapist said words that made Tricia see the light at the end of the tunnel. “You were an athlete before and you’ll be an athlete when you leave here.” Now Tricia bikes, swims, and weight trains. Her goal is to compete in the triathlon world championships and the Paralympics. “There’s a point on that ribbon of highway where the words disabled and able- bodied come together,” says Tricia. “Sports competition shows people what the human spirit can do.” Her life is a testament to bridging the worlds of able bodied and disabled athletes.

Superior Beings is stunning in its showcase portrayal of elite athletes with disabilities who push their own mental, physical and emotional limits to achieve remarkable goals. Each athlete conveys his or her unique story of the essential role sports plays in building a productive, independent life. Profiles include Erik Weihenmayer, who in 2001 became the first blind climber to reach the summit Mount Everest; Rudy Garcia-Tolson, a 13-year-old bi- amputee who has competed in numerous Triathlons; and Hugh Herr, who started the leg laboratory at MIT after losing his legs from a condition caused by severe weather during a rock climbing expedition. The program also showcases Special Olympics and its historic role in paving the way for all athletes with cognitive disabilities. Superior Beings is narrated by blind athlete/entertainer Tom Sullivan, spokesperson for program sponsor Lions Club International.

The documentary highlights technological advances that enable athletes with disabilities to participate and excel in their chosen sport. Rudy Garcia- Tolson’s high tech prostheses for running, walking, and biking border on bionic. Hugh Herr of MIT notes that in the near future he expects “amputees will be running faster than Carl Lewis and jumping higher than the best basketball players.”

George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports said, “We’re especially proud of this program. It’s a testament to the human spirit and demonstrates that even with major obstacles that life may present, the desire and ability to achieve in athletics is universal.”

Superior Beings will not only impact the way people view disabled athletes but serve to educate and inspire K-12 students. Public and private schools nationwide will have access to Superior Beings as part of ESPN’s participation in Cable in the Classroom. Superior Beings kicks off Team ESPN’s Rise to the Challenge program, which seeks to increase awareness of the roles sports can and do play in personal and physical challenges — forever bridging the gap between tragedy and triumph.

DisneyHand, worldwide outreach for The Walt Disney Company helped sponsor this program. They are dedicated to making the dreams of families and children a reality through public service initiatives, community outreach and volunteerism in areas of learning, compassion, the arts and the Environment. For more information on Disney’s corporate public service efforts, please visit our Web site at [url=http://www.disneyhand.com]www.disneyhand.com[/url]

Team ESPN, ESPN’s public service outreach initiative, develops and supports sports-themed programs that use the power of sports to help their fans help others.