Pyeonchang, South Korea - With the 2018 Paralympic Games underway, a member of the local community is representing the country and area for Team USA.
Marc DePerno, Director of the Sitrin STARS program, is currently overseas in South Korea for the Paralympics as a coach for the U.S. Wheelchair team.
The sport of Wheelchair Curling is similar, yet different to that of Olympic Curling. It involves an athlete using a stick to slide the stone down the sheet, and unlike the Olympic curling event, there are no sweepers that travel with the stone to help shape the path towards the house. This, in DePerno's words, makes it potentially even more difficult as it forces the shooter to have even more precision on each shot.
For DePerno, the chance to be at the Paralympics and to be alongside some of our nation's best athletes is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that he's soaking all in.
"It’s unbelievable just to represent Team USA in a great country and be surrounded by amazing athletes with all of their own unique pasts and stories,' said DePerno. "It’s just unbelievable walking into the opening ceremonies. I just experienced the energy, not just from the crowd, but the country and the world in general, it’s been absolutely breathtaking."
He may be a long way from home, but said that the support from the area has made him feel closer than the map may indicate.
"It's been wonderful," he said. "[I've received] a lot of tweets, Facebook messages and phone calls."
The team has also garnered quite a lot of attention from other places as well.
"It's not just from the central New York community, but from our athletes outside from outside of the New York State boundaries," DePerno added. "Great Representation from across the country, people staying up through the wee hours to watch through their various devices and on television."
And according to DePerno, celebrity Curling superfan, Mr. T, has even tweeted his support to the Paralympic team during these games.
The Deerfield resident said he wouldn't trade this experience for anything.
"Amazing country, amazing people. The facilities, the ammenities [are] top notch, second to none," he said. "We are just welcomed with open arms."