In early September, a gracious ESPN viewer gave Leroy the opportunity to visit his college of choice in Arizona to ensure he would be comfortable there. From there, the U.S. Paralympics flew him to Colorado Springs where he and Dartanyon visited the Olympic training headquarters.
Here’s what Leroy has to say about his trip.
My first flight was the most wonderful thing ever, next to the rest of the trip itself. I had it a little easy in the airport with Mr. Hons with me through from the baggage check and boarding the plane. I was not nervous at all. I thought I was going to be, but it all turned when the engines roared. I had a window seat for starters. People say that’s a no-no for a first timer. Well, I say get a window first timers. It’s the most beautiful thing you will see. Cartoonish but beautiful. I always watched Bugs Bunny as a child, and when Coyote falls from the sky and you see the land is in a square formation – that’s how it looks to me from the airplane window. I feel that I will travel a lot in the future so I have to get use to the feelings of flying.
When we landed, we were in Arizona to see Collins College. That school is so awesome. It is a new building. It is designed for students that are interested in interior design and media arts, so the interior pops out at you. I will know where the restrooms are wherever the neon lights are. Mr. Hons and I also saw the motion capture room. Motion capture is a program used to get all the right movements in a video game. It is truly a video gamers Shangri-La. The teachers seem like they will help as long as you’re willing to try. It seems like the school for me. I will be learning about the video game past and the present. Now that I seen the school, I am for sure I want to go there. If I were going to Collins without seeing what I saw on this trip, I would have been surprised at how good it looked.
Arizona….. Arizona… Arizona. That place is beautiful! I didn’t get to see much but from what I saw, the city is spread out so it’s nice and roomy. Not like Cleveland at all. It is hot year round — just the way I like it. If it does get cold, it won’t snow so I don’t have to worry about my wheelchair getting stuck in the snow any more. But I will find out what I didn’t see of Arizona when I start school in November.
From Arizona, Mr. Hons and I were headed to Colorado Springs. After seeing our story on ESPN, the U.S. Paralympics invited Dartanyon and me to visit their training center and learn about their teams. So Mr. Hons and I caught a flight to Denver to up meet with Dartanyon and coach Torry. From there, we took the most meaningless flight ever from Denver to Colorado Springs (up and down in just a few minutes). As I awoke from my slumber the next morning, the day started with a bowl of fruit at the Hilton Antlers Hotel. Then we headed off to the Olympic Headquarters for the greatest day of my life! We were taken on a tour of the campus. I got to meet not only some great athletes but some great people. Dartanyon and I got to meet the USA Greco-Roman Wrestling team, the USA Women’s Wrestling team. It was fun and funny because we were taking pictures of them they were taking pictures of us like we were the celebs, but in true we aren’t. Then we learned some moves from two of the top fighters on the US Judo team. The campus of the Olympics HQ everything is all in a 5 min walk between buildings. The place is like a palace for athletes. Weight room, Judo room, Pools for the fish people, room for male Wrestlers, and a room for female Wrestlers. Later that afternoon, I took a ride with Jon Register to the most heavenly place ever — The Garden of The Gods. The Garden of the Gods is a rock structure that is surrounded by trees. It is a life changer if you see it. It is on my must see list, along with Collins College and the view of the mountains in Colorado from the Hilton Colorado hotel.
Now to add to the goal of getting my bachelors degree, I have a goal to lift as a part of the U.S. Power Lifting Team and maybe throw for the U.S. Track and Field Team. It looks like I may be able to train in Arizona. This is good for me because this is a reason to stay in shape. Without Wrestling and Power Lifting I am nothing. Without Wrestling or Weight Lifting I would not be typing this. I would not have been anywhere. I probably would not be friends with Dartanyon or any of the other wrestlers and lifters on the team. That’s what I mean when I say nothing. And I capitalize Wrestling because to me it is a place. It is a state of mind. It is where people can settle the difference of strength and technique, where people strain each other then get up and shake hands also become friends and rivals. It a world of its own. It is my UTOPIA.