A Wayland athlete who hasn’t let a traumatic brain injury stop her from playing the sports she loves was surprised Wednesday morning with a new handcycle and a visit from a US Paralympian.
At 12 years old, Marina Shelton, now 26, was on track to become a competitive skater, just like her siblings. Her mom owned a dance studio, and she loved to dance and run, Ross Lilley, executive director of AccesSportAmerica, said. Then, she suffered a traumatic brain injury while horseback riding that resulted in the loss of mobility in her legs.
But, less than a year after her accident, Shelton found AccesSportAmerica and began to play sports again. ASA is an organization that helps children and adults of all disabilities to engage in high performance sports, according to their website.
Now, Shelton enjoys windsurfing and wants to run in a marathon to satisfy her “ultra-competitive spirit,” Lilley said.
“She is such a giant personality,” he said. “She certainly likes the limelight. She’s very inventive and she certainly wins people over.”
On Wednesday morning, Shelton thought she was participating in a demonstration for a new accessible paddle board that can hold a wheelchair, Lilley said. Instead, she was surprised by gold medal cyclist Jamie Whitmore and a new customized adaptive handcycle.
“Knowing her over 10 years, we could tell this was a big surprise,” Lilley said. “This was really terrific.”
The handcycle was donated by The Hartford insurance company along with a $40,000 grant to AccesSportAmerica, according to a statement from the company.