Para Guide helps adaptive athletes during COVID-19 pandemic

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-based nonprofit Para Guide is not letting COVID-19 slow down their mission of supporting adaptive athletes in the pursuit of accessibility, inclusion and equity.

“It has definitely thrown a curveball for us,” said Paul Harrold, co-founder of Para Guide.

Para Guide has adapted and is continuing to serve adaptive athletes, including Jamie Crowell, who said she loves to ride the bike.

"There is just so much about it, going fast, especially going downhill and going around the track," Crowell said.

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Crowell is visually impaired. With the help of the Para Guide, she and other adaptive athletes are able to ride regularly outside. Unfortunately, the conditions just don’t allow for tandem riding right now.

"It is very intimate if anyone has had the ability to guide or witness guiding. They know it is very intimate," Harrold said.

According to Harrold, typically in a non-coronavirus environment, Para Guide is out every weekend having guides work with blind and visually impaired athletes.

Harrold and Para Guide are accepting donations of bicycles and turning them into equipment that people like Crowell can use.

Para Guide has procured and installed stationary cycling equipment and indoor fitness equipment in more than 10 apartments and homes in Charlotte, free of charge to the blind athletes. The nonprofit supports 70 athletes across the US, including 45 in the Charlotte area.

Crowell knows coronavirus well. She recently recovered from it.

"I was basically in my recliner chair all of those days, and I didn't care if I got up and did anything," she said.

Crowell got through it slowly and surely like riding uphill. Her endurance returned and she is back on her indoor bike.

She said can’t wait to get back out on the tandem bike outside. In the meantime, she is grateful for all the help Para Guide has and will continue to offer.

"They've been absolutely awesome," she said.

For more information on how to help Para Guide, click here.