Alpine skier Andy Parr among 2006 Paralympic Spirit Award winners{mosimage}TORINO, Italy – The United States Olympic Committee joined U.S. Paralympic team supplier DHL Monday to announce the winners of the 2006 U.S. Paralympic Spirit Award.

Andy Parr, Danell Libby and the members of the U.S. Paralympic sled hockey team were selected by American fans, fellow Team USA athletes, U.S. alumni Paralympians and participating members of the media for best representing 'Olympic Spirit' during the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games. Athletes were selected based on their demonstration of Olympic Ideals and Olympic values such as courage, commitment, perseverance and vision, both in competition and in pursuit of their Paralympic dream. Votes were cast during the nine days of competition, beginning March 10, 2006, through March 19, 2006. Winners for each category are as follows:

Male – Andy Parr (Rockland, Maine) alpine skiing
Parr, who dreamed of becoming a pilot but began to lose his vision as a teenager from macular degeneration, was the only legally blind U.S. athlete competing in the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games. Parr channeled his energy into skiing success and in Salt Lake City in 2002 he captured the Paralympic bronze medal in alpine skiing.

While Parr finished eighth in his event at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games, his enthusiasm and competitive spirit inspired both teammates and fans alike.

Female – Danell Libby (Chatham, N.Y.) – curling
Libby first competed in curling in 2002 and went on to compete with the U.S. wheelchair curling team in Switzerland, where she and her teammates finished fifth in the World Championships. At this year's Paralympic Winter Games, Libby was the sole female on the first U.S. wheelchair curling team to compete in Paralympic history. Team USA tied for seventh in the round-robin standings.

Team – Paralympic U.S. sled hockey team
The 2006 squad earned a Paralympic bronze medal in Torino by defeating Team Germany by one goal. The entire team continually demonstrated incredible passion for the sport and camaraderie among teammates and competitors. Additionally, sled hockey athlete Lonnie Hannah (Mansfield, Texas), who recently beat cancer, was selected as the flagbearer to represent the United States at the Closing Ceremony of the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games.

'In 2000, the United States Olympic Committee introduced the U.S. Paralympic Spirit Award, honoring those athletes who have inspired our country through their commitment to the Olympic Ideals' said Joe Walsh, managing director of U.S. Paralympics. 'Through the support of DHL, we are proud to recognize the athletes from this year's Games for their pursuit of their Paralympic dreams and congratulate them for their excellence, both on and off the field of play.'

'The personal challenges faced, and conquered, by each of these incredible athletes is one that resonated with fans, teammates and the media for best encompassing what the Paralympic Spirit represents' said Karen Jones, DHL vice president of brand, advertising and promotions. 'DHL is honored to recognize these athletes for overcoming adversity and for serving as a role model to those who face personal challenges every day in their own lives.'

The winners will be honored at a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic team celebration dinner on May 16 in Washington D.C. Additionally, DHL will provide a grant of $5,000 on behalf of each of the winners to a qualified Paralympic-related nonprofit organization of their choice.

Past U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Spirit Award winners include Team DHL members Scott Hamilton (figure skating), Dan Jansen (speedskating), Chris Klug (snowboarding), Vonetta Flowers (bobsleigh) and Paralympian Sarah Will (alpine skiing).


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