Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Alumna attempts to raise awareness of Paralympics
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
Shortly after the 2006 Winter Olympic Games come to a close in Torino, Italy, a different group of athletes will take to the ice and hit the slopes during the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games, but they won’t receive as much fanfare. Oakland University alumna and Paralympic swimmer Cheryl Angelelli, CAS ’93, hopes to bring more attention to the Paralympics and the athletes through her film “Untold Dreams,” which will be premiering at Andiamo’s Banquet Center in Warren, Mich., on Thursday, March 2, at 6:30 p.m.
A competitive swimmer since she was 8, Angelelli suffered a spine injury that left her a quadriplegic while diving into a pool at the age of 14. She didn’t give up on her dreams of being a swimming champion. Fifteen years later, she returned to the pool and earned a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Swim Team and competed in the 2000 and 2004 Paralympic Summer Games.
In 2004, Angelelli pitched the idea to a group of producers that they do a story about Paralympians, and before she knew it, a crew was following her around to tell her story.
“It was really important to me that the people in the film were portrayed as athletes, not athletes with disabilities,” Angelelli said.
Angelelli’s coach and husband, Shawn Kornoelje, also an assistant swim coach at OU, said a disability doesn’t have to mean the end for athletes.
“Cheryl wanted this movie done right to show how people excel despite their disabilities,” Kornoelje said. “It’s a relief for her that it is completed. She’s really put her whole life into it.”
After a year-and-a-half of taping, the 32 hours of footage was edited into a one-hour film. Erik Smith, an anchor at WXYZ-TV/Channel 7 in Detroit, provided the narration.
“I hope it serves the purpose of promoting opportunities for people with disabilities,” Angelelli said.
With the film completed, Angelelli is looking forward to getting back into competition.
“I took the year off in 2005. I was probably in the water six times,” she said. “It was nice to take a break.”
However, Angelelli is training again, mostly at OU’s Aquatics Center and looking forward to competing in a few meets this summer and possibly even the world championship in December in South Africa, the only continent she has not swam on.
“I just love competitive sports,” Angelelli said. “I’m an ordinary person that doesn’t live an ordinary life. I like to constantly be challenged.”
Tickets for the “Untold Dream” premiere are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12 years old. For advanced tickets, visit Angelelli’s “Untold Dreams” Web site or call (313) 745-0616. All ticket proceeds will be donated to the Athletes with Disabilities Hall of Fame and Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan’s Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery. DVD and VHS copies of “Untold Dreams” will also be available from Angelelli’s Web site.