Oneida YMCA to host gold medal Paralympic swimmer to coach kids on character

The Oneida Family YMCA is welcoming the second-most decorated Paralympian in U.S. history, Jessica Long, as a special guest.  As the Y is focusing on character development, Long will share her story about never allowing your obstacles in life to weigh you down.

Jessica grew up in Baltimore, Md., but is originally from Siberia. When she was only 13 months old, she was adopted from a Russian orphanage. Born with fibular hemimelia, she didn’t have fibulas, ankles, heels and most of the other bones in her feet. At 18 months old, her legs were amputated below the knees so she could be fitted for prosthetic legs and learn how to walk.

Long has been involved in many sports including gymnastics, basketball, cheerleading, ice skating, biking, running and rock climbing. She learned how to swim in her grandparents’ pool, where she would spend hours pretending she was a mermaid. Jessica first joined a competitive swim team at 10 years old.  Her first international competition was the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games and, at 12 years old, she was the youngest athlete on the U.S. Paralympic Swim Team in Athens. She is winner of 77th AAU James E. Sullivan Award, three-time (2007, 2012, 2013) recipient of the ESPN Best Female Athlete with a Disability ESPY Award, was twice named to Sports Illustrated’s “The World’s Best Female Athletes” (2006, 2011) and was named Disabled Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine.

Long will be sharing her story of success and hard work with the Y’s Vacation, Homeschool & Swim Lesson participants and is also hosting a private swim clinic for the Oneida Dolphins swim team later that afternoon to give insight into strengthening skills.

We are inviting the public to join us for this special guest speaking event. Everyone is welcome to hear how Long turned her struggles into strengths and how we all can overcome anything that comes our way.  Join us in the Oneida Y Gymnasium from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18.

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