Paralympic athlete takes lap around IMS to raise awareness

A Paralympic athlete took his racing wheelchair to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – part of a journey across America as he tries to inspire and empower young people with disabilities.

“It’s just so cool to be able to do it the day before the Indy 500,” said Ryan Chalmers, 24, who was born with Spina Bifida and without the full use of his legs. “This is such a phenomenal event. This is American history, so this is a really cool for me to be a part of it.”

As part of his journey, Chalmers got to take a lap Saturday around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s all part of “Push Across America” – with Chalmers pushing his wheelchair more than 3,000 miles across the country to raise awareness for Stay Focused, a nonprofit organization that helps teens and adults with physical disabilities. He and a team of supporters left Los Angeles on April 6, and should arrive in New York City on June 15.

“Whether you’re able-bodied or disabled, it’s all about deciding what’s important to you and going after it,” said Roger Muller, founder of the Stay Focused organization.

“If you’re passionate and you set goals for yourself, you can achieve anything,” said Chalmers. “I’ve had a lot of people give me that message growing up, never letting your disability get in the way of doing something great.”

Muller and Chalmers will attend Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 together, before heading to Cincinnati on Wednesday.

“I’ve found going across the country there are moments you’re going to remember and moments that change you as a person,and this is going to be one of those moments that for the rest of my life, I’m going to be able to remember,” Chalmers said.

For more information on Ryan’s journey, go to www.PushAcrossAmerica.org