When the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, roll around in 2016, Gig Harbor could be cheering for one of its own.
Peninsula High School grad Ryan Padilla, 32, traveled to Oklahoma City last Friday to compete in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. He finished first with 1:04.55 in the Men’s Paracanoe Arms Only 200m Single Kayak, which earned him a spot to race in the 2012 U.S. Paracanoe World Championships. He will join fellow U.S. paracanoeists Kelly Allen and Danzig Norberg in Poland on May 16 and 17 for the competition.
Padilla, who used to snowboard professionally, was involved in an accident at a construction site several years ago, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
For the past 10 months, Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team head coach Alan Anderson has been training with Padilla to prepare him for the World Championships and eventually, the 2016 Paralympics, where paracanoe will make its debut.
Anderson said since the sport is relatively new, the individual athletes are responsible for all of their travel expenses and funding.
In order to raise enough money for Padilla’s trip to Poland, he will be hosting a fundraising event on Thursday. The public is invited to attend.
When: Thursday, April 26; 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
What: The event will be auctioning off items donated by local businesses. There will also be food and drinks available.