On Sept. 23, Paralympic gold medalist Brian Bell visited Garfield School to give a presentation to the students with his wife, Diane, who had attended Garfield. It’s also the school where their daughter, Kaylan, attends pre-school. Bell was dressed in his Team USA uniform and wearing his gold medal. The students were dressed in red, white and blue with gold medals around their necks, purchased by the school.

The Paralympics, for athletes with disabilities, always follows the Olympics in the host city. This year it was Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. 

The assembly was held in the gym for pre-school and Kindergarten students. Bell referred to his prosthesis as his “robot leg.” He said he lost his leg because he was playing near a train, and he warned the students not to do this. He then handed the microphone to Diane, who talked about Team USA’s Paralympic victory.

Bell took off his “robot leg” and got into his wheelchair, then demonstrated skills like dribbling and sinking shot after shot. He also purposely fell out of the chair and showed the students how he could get back into it. Then he showed students his gold medal and said that Paralympic Medals emit a sound so that vision-impaired athletes can hear them. The assembly lasted about a half hour and the students cheered and clapped at the conclusion.

Bell and his wife returned in the afternoon to give another presentation to preschoolers, which included his daughter, Kaylan and first- and second-graders. When asked if losing his leg was a bad thing, Bell said it actually changed his life for the better. The assemblies were the idea of Kaylan’s teacher, Andrea Connelly, and were approved by Principal Jamie Stauder.

John and Diane Rice