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    Naperville paralympic swimmer named 2014 March of Dimes Inspirational Athlete

    Kate Adams, March of Dimes Chicago Division, (312) 596-4721, kadams@marchofdimes.com

    Alyssa Gialamas named 2014 March of Dimes Inspirational Athlete

    Chicago, Illinois, November 25, 2013 —

    Alyssa Gialamas, an 18-year old Paralympic swimmer and Naperville resident, has been named recipient of the 2014 Inspirational Athlete Award by the March of Dimes Greater Chicago Division. The award honors a young person who has overcome a birth defect or complications related to preterm birth to enjoy, participate and excel in sports and who demonstrates consistently good sportsmanship. Gialamas will be honored alongside top Chicago professional athletes at the March of Dimes Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards on February 10.

     Gialamas was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that results in the underdevelopment of muscles and limbs, affecting her hands, arms and legs. She wears long leg braces to ambulate, one wrist is permanently extended and she has functional but limited range in both her elbows and shoulders. Despite these physical challenges, she competes as an S5 Paralympic swimmer, one of 14 classes based on degree of impact that one’s disability. She is a U.S. Paralympic American record holder in 12 events, competed in her first Paralympic Games in London in 2012, and is currently training for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

     “Alyssa is an amazing athlete and role model, and having a disability has not defined her or the success she has achieved,” said nominator Cindy Housner, Executive Director and Founder, Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA).

     Gialamas is also a member of the Waubonsie Valley High School team in Aurora, where she was a 2012 state champion in three events in the inaugural IHSA Illinois High School State Championships disability races. In her spare time, she mentors other students who have a physical disability and has become an ambassador in promoting sports and being active.

     “Alyssa’s swimming performances are only a small part of what makes her truly exceptional and inspirational,” said Jeannine Carpenter, Assistant Coach, US Paralympic Swimming. “Alyssa’s never-quit attitude, kindness, notable work ethic and unfailing sportsmanship are what set her apart in the world of elite athletics. Many athletes experience success but very few experience success with the grace and heart of Alyssa Gialamas.”

     Gialamas will be honored on February 10 along with athletes from each of Chicago's most beloved teams, including the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, Fire and White Sox. For 25 years, the Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards has raised more than $10 million for the March of Dimes. Guests mingle with Chicago's top professional athletes, bid on exclusive, one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia and raise funds to help the March of Dimes improve the health of all babies.


    The 26th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards

    Monday, February 10
    Hilton Chicago
    720 S. Michigan Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60605

    The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. By funding research, providing education to women and health care providers, and advocating to expand access to healthcare, we’re leading efforts to end premature birth, which affects 1 in 8 babies in the U.S.