Posted on Friday July 12, 2013
Bringing it Home
Friendly Wheels, Issue 65
Featuring Dr. Len Sawisch of the World Dwarf Games Steering Committee
In just 21 days, the world of dwarf sports will return to where it all began. For the first time since 1993, the World Dwarf Games will be held on U.S. soil on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich.
While many are excited to see the Games back in the U.S., one man is particularly happy to see the Games held on MSU’s campus. Dr. Len Sawisch, a diehard Spartan fan who has three degrees from MSU and has also worked with the university, is one of five founding members of the Dwarf Athletic Association of America (DAAA).
The DAAA got its start in East Lansing in 1985, when Len and four of his friends organized sporting events as part of the annual Little People of America (LPA) National Convention.
|Len (far left) and friends|
Seeing people compete on a level playing field was a powerful experience. “The bottom line is, you never know how competitive you can be until you have the chance to be competitive,” Len said. “We wanted to provide a context that made sense so people could really explore their abilities and talents.”
Along with the yearly DAAA National Games, which are held in a different U.S. city each year, the World Dwarf Games are held every four years and attract competition from around the globe. After the first World Games in Chicago in 1993, the Games have traveled to Canada, England, France and Ireland.
The 2013 Games, which will be held August 3-10, will be the largest sporting event in history exclusively for athletes with dwarfism.
|Len and friends with Sparty|
Len is thrilled to see the Games return to East Lansing. “MSU has a cool history for inclusion in general, and adaptive sports are a reflection of that,” Len said. “From a disability perspective, it’s very cool when an organization that says they are committed to equality extends that to people with disabilities as well as various racial and religious orientations.”
Nearly 20 sporting events are offered at the World Dwarf Games, including track & field, basketball, table tennis and power lifting. As Len points out, “Boccia, archery and pistol shooting are also great opportunities for little people with mobility challenges to get involved in the Games.”
Admission to the World Dwarf Games is free for spectators — click here to visit the World Dwarf Games website and learn more about dates and events. Amigo rentals will also be available at the Games in limited quantities — click here to learn more and reserve your rental.
Click here to see Len’s interview with Matt Roloff of Little People, Big World, where he explains the inspiration behind starting the DAAA.