COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO -- The Women’s Intersport Network for Kansas City (WIN for KC) hosted the 24th annual WIN for KC Women’s Sports Awards Celebration presented by Burns & McDonnell on Wednesday, February 7, at the Kansas City Convention Center. NWBA President Sarah Castle was honored with the Kissick Construction Game Changer Award for her creation of the Youth For KC organization that featured the NWBA Victory Tour in October.
The WIN for KC Women’s Sports Awards Celebration presented by Burns & McDonnell is the largest celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day in the country. This annual event recognizes women and girls throughout the community who are making a difference through sports.
Castle is a four-time U.S. Paralympian, winning a silver medal in swimming in the 2000 Sydney Paralympics and finishing fourth in 2004 Athens Paralympics. After a shoulder injury that left her unable to continue swimming, she went on to play wheelchair basketball, winning the gold in 2008 Beijing Paralympics and finishing fourth in the 2012 London Paralympics. She is also a five-time Intercollegiate Division National Champion for the University of Illinois-Champaign, and two-time Parapan American Games gold medalist.
Last summer, she created an organization called “Youth4KC” where she mentors and engages young people with service opportunities that enable them to learn the value of making positive, impactful change. The NWBA Victory Tour, which raised money for “Youth4KC,” is a program developed for communities to host events across the United States to honor the achievements and gold-medal success of both men’s and women’s 2016 Paralympic teams. All proceeds were split between the NWBA and the local hosts to support wheelchair basketball programs. The Victory Tour was held in Seattle and Kansas City in 2017.
“This is a tremendous honor to be recognized by WIN for KC as the Game Changer,” Castle said. “I continue to be overwhelmed by the awareness and support from the Kansas City community for Youth for Kansas City and the sport of wheelchair basketball.”
Castle graduated in 2006 from the University of Illinois-Champaign with her undergraduate and a masters in Political Science and Government. She received a doctorate of law from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2012. During her road to the 2012 London Paralympics, she was also studying for the bar exam. Two-weeks following the London Games, she passed the bar and became a lawyer in the state of Missouri.
Keynote speaker will be Ibtihaj Muhammad, an American sabre fencer who won a bronze medal in the Team Sabre at the 2016 Rio Olympics. With this achievement, she became the first female Muslim-American athlete to earn a medal at the Olympics. Muhammad also made history as the first Muslim-American woman to compete in the Olympic Games for Team USA while wearing a hijab. She is ranked No. 7 in the world individually and won gold with Team USA at the 2014 Senior World Championships.
The other five individuals honored were:
Children’s Mercy Rising Star Award - McKenna Luptak, this nine-year-old elite multisport athlete competes in BMX and figure skating. At the age of seven she created “Kenna’s Cuddles” an initiative under which she packages and delivers stuffed animals, coloring books and other goodies to patients at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
Lockton Courage Award - Lisa Elsener is a lifelong Special Olympian who has never let anything, or anyone, stop her from accomplishing her goals. She competes locally in swimming, track & field, basketball, volleyball, soccer, cheerleading, speed skating, bowling and golf.
UMB Lifetime Sportswoman Award - Chau Smith completed 7 marathons on 7 different continents in 7 days for her 70th birthday. An avid runner and competitor, Chau has made it her mission to prove that anyone of any age can accomplish their goals.
Hallmark Cards Leadership Award - Liz Weidling is a triathlon coach who has inspired women to participate in sports for over 15 years. Liz’s encouraging and uplifting spirit does not stop once you leave the race site; her triathletes refer to her as a friend, family and someone they can always count on to push them to be the best versions of themselves.
BKD WOW Award - Jill Leiker is an advocate for empowering women and girls to protect themselves. After the tragic death of Ali Kemp, The Ali Kemp Educational (T.A.K.E.) Foundation was formed and Jill established the T.A.K.E. Defense Program to educate women and girls about the importance of self defense.
The WIN for KC Women’s Sports Awards Celebration presented by Burns & McDonnell is a key fundraising initiative to support WIN for KC’s mission to ignite and empower girls and women through advocating and promoting the lifetime value of sports and fitness, while providing opportunities for participation and leadership development.