By Jon Sham, firstname.lastname@example.org
9:02 AM EST, December 5, 2012
Paralympic gold medalist Tatyana McFadden has competed in front of thousands of people, around the world. She raced in Athens, Beijing and London, and brought home 10 medals.
But on Tuesday, the Clarksville resident was captivating a different audience: students at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Ellicott City.
McFadden, whose sister attends the school, was invited by Principal Victor Pellechia to speak to students about her accomplishments and staying active.
"[They're] learning about what she's gone through and what so many people go through," Pellechia said. "They're able to overcome, maybe, physical obstacles and still express that passion for athleticism."
McFadden showed off some of her athletic equipment, including a sled-like chair for playing hockey. It came with a pair of shortened hockey sticks she uses to mobilize and shoot.
"Everything is adapted to where I can sit," McFadden told a group of students. Her mother, Deborah McFadden, stood proudly behind her and talked about her achievements.
Tatyana said coming back from the London games was a bit of an adjustment.
"It's kind of like a daydream when you're at the games, and when you win a gold medal, reality hasn't hit you," she said Tuesday, her gold medal draped around her neck. "I'm coming back home and I have to do homework and chores."
Students were amazed by her basketball pick-up technique, which combined cupping the ball and rolling it up her wheelchair's wheel. And two students were selected to play a game of two-on-two against Tatyana and Pellechia.
The afternoon ended with an obstacle course relay race.
"It really inspires me," said OLPH 8th-grader Chloe Boustany. "If you work hard enough, you can achieve what you want."