Press Release


Paralympic Legend Chris Waddell to Keynote SHAPE America’s National Convention & Expo in Minneapolis

RESTON, VA, February 1, 2016 —The most decorated U.S. Paralympic sit-skier and wheelchair track athlete of all time, Chris Waddell, who won 12 Paralympic medals and became the first paraplegic to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, will keynote the Let's Move! Active Schools General Session at the 131st National Convention & Expo of SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators, on Thursday, April 7 in Minneapolis. 

The Let's Move! Active Schools General Session is designed to celebrate the physical activity champions in all of us! In addition to an inspiring keynote presentation by Waddell, attendees will enjoy a "game-show showdown" between NFL, NBA and Olympic track and field athletes, emceed by two-time Emmy Award-winning sports broadcaster Jenn Brown, and a roof-raising performance by Koo Koo Kanga Roo.

Waddell's participation is made possible by Athletes for Hope, a non-profit organization that educates, encourages and assists professional, Olympic and college athletes in their efforts to contribute to community and charitable causes, to increase public awareness of those efforts, and to inspire others to do the same. 

Chris Waddell always thought that the lessons he learned in sports would provide the foundation for later success. As a ski racer at Middlebury College, he had no idea how profoundly one moment could change and paradoxically enhance that conviction. On December 20, 1988, his ski popped off in the middle of a turn. He fell, broke two vertebrae, and damaged his spinal cord. Paralyzed from the waist down, he would go on to learn and achieve more than he could have imagined. 

Waddell returned to college just two months after the accident, started monoskiing in less than a year and was named to the U.S. Disabled Ski Team a little more than two years later. With 12 Paralympic medals, he became the most decorated male monoskier in history. Also a track athlete, he's one of a handful to have won World Championships in both the winter and the summer. He competed in four Winter Paralympics, winning 12 medals, and three Summer Paralympics, winning a silver medal in the 200 meters in Sydney. In World Championship competition, Waddell has won nine total medals. 

Among his many honors, Waddell was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and the Paralympics Hall of Fame. The Dalai Lama honored him as an "Unsung Hero of Compassion," People Magazine named him one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World," while Skiing Magazine placed him among the "25 Greatest Skiers in North America." Middlebury College presented him with a doctorate in humane letters. National Public Radio (NPR) named his 2011 commencement address at Middlebury College as one of "The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever." 

In September 2009, Waddell became the first nearly unassisted paraplegic to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro. The film documenting the climb has won awards throughout the world. Waddell has appeared on "Dateline," "Oprah" and "20/20." He is the founder of the One Revolution Foundation and does his best to share this belief: "It's not what happens to you. It's what you do with what happens to you." 

Additionally, Jenn Brown's participation is made possible by KIDS in the GAME and Koo Koo Kanga Roo's by GoNoodle.

SHAPE America is a proud managing partner of the Let's Move! Active Schools national collaborative that includes 29 other health, education and private sector leaders: AASA (The School Superintendents Association), Action for Healthy Kids, Adventure to Fitness, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), Athletes for Hope, BOKS, ChildObesity180, Focused Fitness, GenMove USA, GENYOUth Foundation, GoNoodle, Good Sports, Gopher Sport, Kaiser Permanente, KIDS in the GAME, Let's Move!, Marathon Kids, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), National PTA, NBA FIT, NIKE, Inc., Partnership for a Healthier America, President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, S&S Worldwide, SPARK & Sportime, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and USA Track & Field.

More than 5,000 health and physical education teachers, researchers and other physical activity professionals are expected to attend the convention, which is the nation's largest event of its kind in the country. The convention, which will be held April 5-9, is held in partnership with SHAPE America Central District and Minnesota SHAPE. 

For more information about SHAPE America's National Convention & Expo, visit the convention webpage and follow #SHAPEMinneapolis.


About SHAPE America
SHAPE America - Society of Health and Physical Educators is committed to ensuring all children have the opportunity to lead healthy, physically active lives. As the nation's largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals, SHAPE America works with its 50 state affiliates and national partners to support initiatives such as the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, Let's Move! Active Schools and the Jump Rope For Heart/Hoops For Heart programs.

Since its founding in 1885, the organization has defined excellence in physical education, and our resources provide the leadership, professional development and advocacy that support health and physical educators at every level - from preschool to university graduate programs. For more information, visit