Local coach goes to Sochi for Paralympics

UNDATED – Kevin Bittenbender is the new chair of Union County’s 4th of July committee, but he is taking a break from that duty for the next few weeks to coach Paralympians in Sochi, Russia.

Bittenbender coaches 18 athletes in Nordic skiing and the biathlon.  “I got involved in coaching about five years ago and it just stuck with me.  It is very rewarding.  You can’t have a bad day when you see some of these athletes and the adversities they have gone through.”

Bittenbender says his athletes include those injured in combat, cancer survivors, those born with a disability and even Russian athletes adopted in the United States because they were disabled.  “You don’t have to be paralyzed or a paraplegic.  It is a parallel to the able-bodied Olympics.  The events are similar and they are just as fast.  It is amazing to see some of the athletes competing on a world stage at the same level as an Olympian.”

The opening ceremony for the 2014 Paralympic Games is March 7. (Sara Bartlett)

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