The Hartford Nationals, the largest and longest-running sport championships for athletes with a physical, visual and/or intellectual disability, is descending on Hoover, beginning Saturday.
Now in its 66th year, more than 400 athletes and coaches are slated to participate in the weeklong series of events.
The Hartford Nationals is coordinated by Move United, a national nonprofit and affiliate of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. This year’s event combines, for the first time, championships for both adult and youth athletes.
The athletes will compete in a host of events including archery, para powerlifting, paratriathlon, shooting, swimming, track and field and wheelchair tennis. More than 300 athletes from all over the country are expected to compete through July 14.
Glenn Merry, executive director of Move United, said the Hartford Nationals is a special event that brings people together.
“These athletes are really doing what they love despite the obstacles they have had to overcome,” Merry said.
“The Hartford Nationals gives you a different perspective on what is possible, that sports really are a way to demonstrate to the world that people are different, but it is still running, swimming, jumping, and throwing.”
Athletes must compete in Move United sanctioned qualifiers for a chance to move on to The Hartford Nationals, which also serves as a pipeline for disabled athletes to compete internationally and in the Paralympics.
This marks only the second time the Hartford Nationals has taken place in Alabama. The first time was in 1996 when Birmingham hosted the event.
This time, venues in both Hoover and Birmingham will be part of the championship. Events will take place at the Birmingham Crossplex, the Hoover Metropolitan Complex, The Lakeshore Foundation, Spain Park High School and the Hyatt Regency Birmingham. Hoover and Birmingham are not newcomers when it comes to hosting big sporting events; one year ago, the region was host to The World Games and for years has hosted the SEC Baseball Tournament.
The city of Hoover is leading the local organizing committee for the event with contributions from The Lakeshore Foundation, National Center on Physical Activity and Disability and the Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Hoover Mayor Frank V. Brocato said, “As one of the most diverse cities in Alabama, the city of Hoover makes an intentional effort to make sure everyone feels included and empowered. We are excited to share our facilities with the Move United team and those of all abilities. We also look forward to welcoming all the athletes to our area and showing them an experience filled with smiles and Southern charm.”
Move United is a national leader in community adaptive sports, serving 120,000 youth and adults with disabilities annually. It works with 200 member organizations in 45 states “ensuring everyone, regardless of ability, the experience of how life-changing sports can be, and to ensure everyone is fully included in their community.”
The Hartford Nationals is seeking volunteers to help with many of the individual competitions as well as other tasks. For more information about volunteering and to register, click here.
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)