Meet the Match

A Paralympic Legend Mentors A New Generation

Adeline Dumapong is not the type of person to get discouraged by difficult situations. Born into a poor family in the mountainous landlocked province of Ifugao in the Philippines, she was diagnosed with polio at the age of 6. Paralyzed from the waist down, her family made the hard decision to move her to a school for children with disabilities seven hours south in Manila.

It was at that school that a Belgian missionary first exposed Adeline to sports.

“I tried everything when I was younger,” Adeline says. “Wheelchair racing, wheelchair basketball, swimming. But, I really wanted to find a sport that made me feel strong. And here I am now.”

“Here” for Adeline is preparing for her fifth Paralympic Games as a member of the Philippines’ powerlifting team. In the 2000 Sydney Games, Adeline became the first Filipina to earn a medal, winning bronze in her category, and she has participated in every Paralympics since then.

At the age of 42, Adeline competed in her final Paralympic Games in Rio before transitioning out of competition. Aside from managing two competitive wheelchair basketball teams, she also holds several roles within the Philippine Sports Association for the Differently Abled—National Paralympic Committee of the Philippines (PHILSPADA-NPC PHIL). These positions include athlete’s representative, board treasurer, and point person for the Women in Sport Committee launched by the Asian Paralympic Committee.

Adeline believes in the power of mentorship and had taken leadership courses throughout the year to prepare for her the transition. But, she had run into issues at the grassroots level when trying to recruit children to participate in Paralympic sports because of parents’ fears.

“Parents are ashamed or afraid of letting their children play sports,” Adeline says. “I am considered an exception to the rule. Participating in the Global Sports Mentoring Program: Sport for Community can help me—it can serve as the feather in my cap when I reach out to them.”

The Lakeshore Foundation has participated in multiple Department of State exchanges and since 1984 has lived its vision of improving the lives of people with disabilities throughout the world from young athletes to Paralympic hopefuls. Jeff Underwood, Beth Curry and their versatile team represent a variety of strengths from advocacy and policymaking to programming and activities for disabled athletes. With the state-of-the-art facilities at Lakeshore, and the years of experience in this sector, they were able to provide Adeline with both a space to train for the Rio 2016 Games, as well as the mentorship needed for her to help develop another generation of Filipino Paralympians.

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