U.S. Paralympic Athletes Compete In Battle With The Blades

FORT SMITH (KFSM)- Battle With the Blades, a unique track and field event featuring U.S. Paralympic athletes is raising awareness of limb loss and adaptive sports.

"I'm blind, so I can't see and I have a guide who stands at the take off board," Lex Gillette, Paralympic athlete said. "He's clapping and yelling and that gives me an audible reference of where I need to run and jump from."

Gillette is a world record holder and just one of many athletes competing in the event, hoping to show the public what they're capable of.

"We certainly don't want it to be a pity sort of outlook, but more of a vested interest and appreciation for athletes running ten seconds and jumping over 22 and 23 feet," Gillette said.

Cody Johnson said his passion developed for sprinting after last year's event.

"I was immediately hooked," Johnson said. "I knew right then I wanted to start training right away. I wanted to start running and about three months after that, I got my first running leg and I was able to start."

Now, he's receiving a new running blade, which he said will get him to the next level.

"I need a lot of compression and feedback to produce power and force forward," Johnson said. "That's exactly what this foot is designed to do."

Fans said the talents of these athletes are nothing short of encouraging.

"I saw it in the paper and I was just really impressed by especially the picture," Jerry Donaldson said. "This fella has got two artificial limbs and to see him go across the field, I don't know how he does that. I'd love to see that, so to me, it's real encouragement to see someone not give up."

Organizations including Arkansas Freedom Fund were at the event to show its new technology to help people with disabilities participate in sports and other activities.

For more information about Battle With the Blades, visit the event's Facebook page.