In an effort to further support Team USA's Paralympic athletes as they pursue their sport dreams and in partnership with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), Toyota is excited to make history with the creation of nearly $5 million in stipend and sponsorship opportunities that will directly impact the lives of eligible U.S. Paralympic athletes aiming to compete at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 or the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
Toyota believes that mobility goes beyond cars and wants to support people in their efforts to get across town, across a room, and through life. Toyota also believes in the power of sport, and its ability to connect people with diverse backgrounds as they compete with mutual respect towards a common goal. Through sport, the Olympic and Paralympic Games bring together the entire world to celebrate the highest realization of humanity, and it is the elite Paralympic athletes who truly demonstrate that when a person is free to move, anything is possible.
"As a TOP partner of the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee, and in alignment with the values of Toyota, we're proud to have the opportunity to support all eligible Team USA Paralympic athletes who will represent our country on the world's largest stage," said Lisa Materazzo, group vice president, Toyota Marketing, Toyota Motor North America. "We welcome these athletes into the Team Toyota family and look forward to playing just a small role in their journey to Tokyo and Beijing. We hope our support will contribute to driving more awareness for all Paralympic athletes worldwide and the Paralympic Games."
Together, the stipend and sponsorship opportunities will offer up to $5 million in monetary support to eligible athletes to help their sport and the pursuit of their dreams:
- Stipend: In partnership with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Foundation and utilizing the newly created Toyota U.S. Paralympic Fund, a one-time stipend of $3,000 will be made to all eligible Team USA Paralympic athletes who are currently training and in contention to represent the United States at the Tokyo and Beijing Games. Individuals can also make additional donations by visiting https://support.teamusa.org/Toyota. Dollars raised will provide direct support to Paralympic athletes and the programs that help them reach their full potential.
- Sponsorship Opportunities: Toyota will also offer sponsorship opportunities to athletes named to the U.S. Paralympic Team for both the Tokyo and Beijing Games. Athletes will have the opportunity to opt-in to accept the sponsorship.
"As the Paralympic Movement continues to prosper in the U.S., we're encouraged by the commitments made by partners like Toyota, which foster greater affinity and exposure for Team USA's dedicated Paralympic athletes," said Sarah Hirshland, chief executive officer, USOPC. "The extra funds and expanded sponsorship opportunities give our Paralympic athletes more time to focus on training as they prepare for their goal of representing our country on the global stage."
"I am 16 and have been competing in Para track and field since I was 8 years old. Unfortunately, I have seen many of my fellow adaptive athletes quit competing because of the expense for equipment, travel and training," said Ezra Frech, U.S. Paralympic hopeful and Para track and field athlete. "This program should inspire more young athletes to keep grinding. Thank you, Toyota, for your commitment to Team USA's Paralympic athletes!"
In addition to the fund, Toyota has been an active supporter of Paralympic athletes and adaptive sports. In 2015, the company became the official worldwide mobility partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Committees for the 2017-2024 period. In addition, Toyota is a proud partner of Team USA and several Paralympic National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and Paralympic national teams, including: the National Wheelchair Basketball Association; U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing; U.S. Paralympics Cycling; U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing; U.S. Paralympics Snowboarding; U.S. Paralympics Swimming; U.S. Paralympics Track & Field; USA Curling and the USA Wheelchair National Curling Team; USA Hockey and the U.S. National Sled Team; and USA Triathlon and the Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon National Team. Toyota also has long-standing relationships with the Adaptive Action Sports (AAS) and the Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF).
As a mobility company, Toyota is also lending its engineering expertise to Paralympic athletes, who may require specialized equipment or utilize human guides when they compete. Prior to the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, Toyota Racing Development (TRD) worked with three-time Paralympian and Team Toyota alpine skier Danelle Umstead and her husband and sight guide, Rob, at a North Carolina wind tunnel to provide engineering feedback on body positioning, drafting and speeds. And, looking ahead to the Beijing Games, TRD is collaborating with the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing team to develop a sit-ski, which the team hopes to use in competition.