Students learn to play sports in a new way
Patrick Byrne of Norridge demonstrates how he plays golf while balancing on one leg. His dad introduced him to the sport after Byrne lost his leg in a construction accident in 1992. Byrne now teaches veterans, stroke survivors and the visually impaired how to play the game. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 29, 2012 9:23AM
Before Patrick Byrne, of Norridge, lost his leg in a construction accident, he thought being confined to a wheelchair was a fate worse than death.
But since his accident in 1992, he realized you can have a full life despite a disability, including a life as an athlete.
Byrne was a member of the gold-medal-winning sled hockey team at the 2002 Paralympic Games in Salt Lake City and was inducted into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.
He’s also an avid golfer with the National Amputee Golf Association and is a sports coordinator with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago working with veterans and stroke survivors.
Byrne got a bunch of other athletes with disabilities to talk to students at Leigh School in Norridge on May 16 where Byrne’s three kids — P. J., Bridget and Caroline — attend. The assembly goes along with the book “One-Handed Catch” about a young baseball fan who loses his hand in an accident, which the students and their families were invited to read.
“We play sports just a little different than you,” Byrne told the assembly of students.
Then the athletes demonstrated how they compete, whether it was running a triathlon with a prosthetic leg, using a hand cycle instead of a bicycle, playing golf with a modified prosthetic arm or using a power chair to swipe a soccer ball in power soccer.
“The most important thing is to get back up and go out there,” Byrne told students.
— Ryan Pagelow