Spotlight /

October 2021

Breaking Barriers with Daniel Romanchuk

Daniel Romanchuk is a Paralympic track and marathon athlete who was born with spina bifida. He grew up playing a variety of sports with the Bennett Blazers Physically Challenged Sports Program in Baltimore, Maryland. At the age of 16, he began focusing on wheelchair racing and training with the renowned University of Illinois Wheelchair Track Program. He later won the 5000m Gold Medal at the 2015 Parapan Am Games and was a member of Team USA at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. 

He went on to break world records, becoming the first American to win the male division of the NYC Marathon and the first American and youngest ever male to win the Boston Marathon. He competed in the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, winning medals in the T54 events: gold in the 400-meter race, and bronze in the men's marathon.

Outside of his own racing career, Daniel is passionate about encouraging the next generation to pursue excellence and integrity in sports, including returning to the Bennett Blazers program to coach young athletes.

Key Takeaways

01 Use the tools that you have to find ways of accomplishing your goals

If you think you can’t - you can. Daniel inherited a mindset from Bennett Blazers at a very early age where he learned to create paths towards succeeding in his goals rather than allowing any obstacles or fear to hold him back.

02 Advocate for change so that it’s better in the future

Daniel’s passion for encouraging the next generation to pursue excellence and integrity in sports also includes his advocacy for disability rights. This can also apply to anything you hope to see change for in the future: take each learning as a lesson, and do what you can to change unfavorable situations so that others don’t have to go through it as well.

03 Start representing more people with disabilities in the media

Daniel talks about the importance of the media’s power and the opportunity to include more people with disabilities. By having a vaster representation, we can begin to normalize it more and more.

04 Stay disciplined day-to-day by making decisions ahead of time

If you make commitments in advance, you give yourself less leeway to change your plans. Having the discipline to make (and keep!) commitments holds you accountable for your own time and makes a healthy habit of sticking to a schedule.

05 If you’re not having fun, find something else

For anyone thinking about turning their hobby or passion to a career, Daniel’s #1 recommendation is to make sure you can continue having fun with it. Full-time dedication and relentless work can lead to a level of intensity never met before, and you might risk getting burnt out from something you used to love.

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