Dragon Bay supports two racers
Athletes Brian Siemann and Ryan Chalmers will compete in the wheelchair category of the Cayman Islands Marathon with the support and sponsorship of Cayman’s Dragon Bay development.
This is the first year the organisers of the Cayman Islands Marathon have introduced an official wheelchair category in the half-marathon. The first three wheelchair athletes to cross the finish line will win awards.
For the past two years, Mr. Siemann and Mr. Chalmers, both accomplished wheelchair racers and alumni of the Stay-Focused programme, have participated in the marathon as part of a trial by the organisers.
The two competitors are currently on athletic scholarships at their respective universities.
Mr. Siemann, 21, is a senior, majoring in recreation, sport and tourism at the University of Illinois and is on a track and basketball scholarship. He has been selected to represent Team USA at the World Championships in New Zealand in January 2011. He was certified in scuba diving with Stay-Focused in Grand Cayman in 2005, and participated in the Cayman Islands Marathon in 2008 and 2009.
Mr. Chalmers, also 21, is a junior, majoring in English at the University of Illinois. He is on a track scholarship and has also been selected to represent Team USA at the World Championships in New Zealand in January 2011.
Brian was certified in scuba diving with Stay-Focused in Grand Cayman in 2006 and participated in the Cayman Islands Marathon in 2008.
Both young men are looking forward to officially competing in the Cayman marathon on Saturday, 5 December.
Stay-Focused is a nonprofit organisation founded by Roger Muller that offers scuba diving experiences to teems and young adults with disabilities at whatever level they can achieve. The programme builds confidence in its participants and teaches valuable lessons on overcoming challenges. Stay-Focused is also committed to supporting medical research that explores the beneficial aspects of diving for people with disabilities.
Stay-Focused launched its first programme in Grand Cayman in March 2004 and has since conducted 21 programmes with 50 first-time divers and more than 50 returning divers.
All diving takes place in Grand Cayman with major support provided by local sponsors. Stay-Focused established a partnership with Sunrise Adult Training Centre in 2006 and has offered scuba experiences to more than a dozen of the centre’s local trainees.
Participants also learn about Cayman’s marine environment by participating in workshops offered by the Ambassadors of the Environment programme at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
“Dragon Bay is all about life on the water, and we are pleased to be a supporter of the Stay-Focused programme as it uses Cayman’s unique marine environment to empower and encourage young people with disabilities,” said Dragon Bay developer Mike Ryan.
“Seeing Ryan and Brian participate in the Cayman Islands Marathon’s first official wheelchair category will provide a wonderful example to all of us to overcome challenges and turn obstacles into opportunities. I am thrilled and proud to sponsor their participation,’ said Mr. Ryan.
Dragon Bay and its property owners have completely underwritten the young men’s participation in the Cayman Islands Marathon, including their travel, accommodation, transportation and event registration.
“We are very grateful for the generous support Dragon Bay is providing in sponsoring Ryan’s and Brian’s participation in the Cayman Islands Marathon,” said Mr. Muller, who added, “Cayman holds a special place in the hears of these young men – it’s where they experience the freedom of diving and are reminded that their disability is merely an obstacle to overcome.
Organiser of the Cayman Islands Marathon Rhonda Kelly said: “As the race director, I am thrilled to have Ryan and Brian joining us again. They, along with Stay-Focused, were the impetus for the wheelchair category being added, so it makes it even more special to have them here,” she said.
To lend Brian and Ryan additional support, Dragon Bay employees will enter a relay team to run the marathon. The development is also encouraging employees and Dragon Bay property owners to walk the half-marathon course to show their support for the Stay-Focused athletes.