Paralympic gold medalist to hold exhibition match in Lawrence to raise funds for Trinity In-Home Care

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Nick Taylor, right, and his Quad Doubles Partner David Wagner, bite their Gold Medals in celebration at the 2012 London Paralympics.

Nick Taylor, right, and his Quad Doubles Partner David Wagner, bite their Gold Medals in celebration at the 2012 London Paralympics. by thc

Paralympian Nick Taylor has all the medals to prove he is a world class athlete – wheelchair or not. His recipe for success is extraordinary talent, perseverance, supportive friends and family and opportunity.

When Taylor was 14, he decided to learn how to play tennis. “I started because I wanted to play high school sports. So, I played against able-bodied kids and then found out about wheelchair tennis,” he said. Clearly skilled, Taylor went on to dedicate a large portion of his time to fine tuning his tennis game. He is most known for the way he serves the tennis ball, by popping the ball off of one foot and then serving underhanded.

At birth Taylor was diagnosed with a rare condition called Arthrogryposis. Arthrogryposis causes limited mobility at the joints due to either poor muscle development or excess connective tissue development prior to birth.

Competition on and off the courts is what Taylor most enjoys. Taylor serves as a volunteer coach at Wichita State, helping to teach able-bodied students strategy. “Because of the severity of my disability, everyone I play is way less disabled than me. As a result I have to think about it. I have to think where I am going to hit the ball and where they might hit it to me. They (the students) have never had to think like that."

When he isn’t coaching, Taylor is competing in wheelchair tennis tournaments worldwide, approximately 15 a year. Like able-bodied tennis, the biggest wheelchair tennis events are the Grand Slam tournaments held in the United States and in Australia. But the Paralympics are the pinnacle, being held alongside the Olympics and geared for athletes with a physical disability. They are as competitive as the Olympic games.

Training for the Paralympics was no easy task. Each day Taylor worked from 3 to 6 hours on the courts, stuck to a strict diet and was able to lose 20 pounds. The training proved beneficial as he left the Paralympics with a Gold medal in Quad Doubles and a Bronze in Quad Singles. In addition, Taylor holds Gold medals in Quad Doubles from the 2008 Beijing and the 2004 Athens games.

“This was my first medal in singles,” Taylor said. “In Athens and Beijing I finished fourth in competition and that is a very difficult place to finish.” Taylor is supportive of area agencies that provide non-medical support to people like him. “It is not all roses even with a lot of help,” said Taylor. The tasks of daily living, like getting dressed, grooming and eating can be difficult for him. As a result, he will appear at Trinity In-Home Care’s upcoming fundraiser, Rally for Respite.

“I don’t want someone else in a wheelchair to think ‘Good for him. He can do that, but I can’t. I need help every day,’” Taylor said. “I (also) need a lot of help with daily living tasks and I have a personal care attendant go with me on trips. I can’t pick up a cheeseburger, but I can hit a tennis ball."

Come see Taylor hit the tennis ball at Rally for Respite at the Jayhawk Tennis Center on September 29 from 4 to 7 p.m. The event will feature hands-on tennis activities for all ages, an exhibition match between Taylor and local touring professional Chloe Jones and a silent auction. Advanced tickets are $15 per person or $40 per family and are available at Jayhawk Tennis Center, Imagine Drop-In Childcare, www.tihc.org . Tickets will also be available at the door for $20 per person or $50 per family. Money raised at the Rally will go toward helping to provide care for those who cannot pay for services.

Trinity In-Home Care has been serving Douglas County residents since 1976. The local non-profit provides 500 hours of care and visits 300 homes every day. Services provided by Trinity In-Home Care include childcare by the hour at Imagine Drop-In Childcare, daily living tasks like meal preparation, housekeeping and transportation. If someone you know needs services, please call 842-3159.

Tagged: In-Home Care, Aging Well, Paralympics, Disability