Children's Specialized Hospital Lightning Wheels
Children's Lightning Wheels
Children’s Lightning Wheels, a Paralympic Sports Club, sponsored by Children’s Specialized Hospital and a part of the Kohl’s Cares program, is a sports team for athletes ages 5 – 22 that have a primary diagnosis of a physical disability. When founded in 1981, the team was primarily a track and field team, but since that time swimming, archery, table tennis and weightlifting have been added. In 2003, the team embraced athletes whose disability does not require the use of a wheelchair. These athletes may use walkers, crutches, wear orthotics or braces or may have motor planning difficulties. Many of the past and present members of the Children’s Lightning Wheels are national record holders in track, field and swimming.   At the National Junior Disability Championships, the team has consistently been recognized as one of the top three teams in the country and the athletes have been recognized for their commitment to individual sports. The team has also been represented at several international events including the 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 Paralympics and the 2010 World Games. 

In the off season, team members have the opportunity to participate in other activities including a weekly work-out at a local gym where participants work on increasing flexibility, range of motion, and strength and various sport clinics.
 
We realize that all participants will not set records or compete on a national or international level but they will have benefited from being part of a team. Those benefits include: confidence, independence, self-esteem, camaraderie and the life-long friendships that develop. It is a known fact that participation in athletics helps to build a level of confidence in young people that will greatly contribute to their ability to meet life’s challenges. Many Children’s Lightning Wheels graduates have gone on to successful college and professional careers. They attribute their success, in part to the experience they had as a member of the Children’s Lightning Wheels. 
 
Athletic competition is one of the truest tests of the human spirit. Children’s Specialized Hospital is committed to nurturing that spirit in every way possible.  
The objectives of the program are:
  • To have fun!
  • To make new friends.
  • To increase independence, self-confidence and self-esteem in the athlete with a disability.
  • To improve the level of physical fitness, through exercise, for the athlete with a disability.
  • To improve the individual’s physical skill level through instruction and providing varied activities.
  • To help establish an awareness of living a healthy lifestyle.
  • To work with the complete individual or athlete, i.e. not concentrating only on the physical aspects of the activities but also taking into account other factors like the social, emotional and psychological well-being of the individual.
  • To increase individual effort and encourage team involvement.
  • To promote a “carry-over” effect, i.e. to stimulate a desire within the athlete to continue pursuing any activity at his/her present activity level or at a greater level once he/she “graduates” from the program.
  • To motivate the athlete with a disability to attempt a variety of new sports or activities.
  • To increase the athlete’s awareness of his/her own individual capabilities, by introducing different techniques through instruction and offering suggestions for modifications.
  • To offer the opportunity to travel and see new places.
  • To create a peer group for parents and family members.

Coaching Staff: Phil Galli, coach; Julie Goerlich, coach; Paul Kolterjahn, coach, Anne Marie Santos, coach, Elke van Hooydonk, coach; Trisha Yurochko, head coach.