Recent UMKC grad prepares for Paralympics

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. - To be an Olympian takes focus, determination and courage. Sarah Castle has displayed all of those attributes since the age of 11.

"We were driving home from school one day. I ran in to the house with what I thought were growing pains and went and sat down. When I went to stand up, I collapsed. My mom took me to the emergency room. By the end of the night, I was unable to move my legs."

Eventually, the doctors determined she had acute transverse myelitis. The condition caused partial paralysis. Castle turned to sports as a coping mechanism. She soon became one of the top Paralympians in the world. At first, Castle focused on swimming. She won a silver medal in 2000 and competed again in the 2004 games. Eventually, shoulder injuries forced her out of the pool and on to the hardwood.

"I love it. It's a lot of fun, and I can be a little more goofy."

Castle joined the U.S.A. Women's Basketball Team in 2005. She was on the squad in 2008 when they brought home the gold from Beijing.

"The true moment of understanding it is when you get that medal around your neck, watch your flag get raised. I can barely get through the National Anthem without having tears or goosebumps."

Castle has kept busy the past four years. She graduated in May from the law school at UMKC. She is studying to take the bar examination next week. Oh yeah. She's also a captain on this summer's U.S.A. team.

"Most people think that having one pressure in their life is enough. I, for some reason, felt like two major pressures was the necessary route."

It only takes one glance to notice Sarah Castle is different. She's out to prove that different can also mean extraordinary.

"It doesn't matter how bad it looks, there's always the possibility that it's great. My life has been so amazing and so amazing because of my being in a chair. I hope people take from me that something bad can happen but you can always make it good."

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