Paralympians Need To Raise Another $2 Million To Get To Rio

04/03/2016 1:31 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Matt Lewis of Australia and Jim Roberts of Great Britain during the 2015 BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge match between Great Britain and Australia at The Copper Box on October 13, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images)

The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) are still seeking another $2 million in order to send their 170 athletes to the Rio Paralympic Games in September this year.

It will cost $7 million -- approximately $40,000 per athlete -- to get the team to the Games.

If the Committee fails to raise the final $2 million the team will miss out on much needed resources.

"If we don’t reach our fundraising target, it reduces our ability to provide essential services like for the Paralympic Team including uniform, equipment and medical support," an APC spokesman told The Huffington Post Australia.

Rob Lawrenson, head of fundraising at the APC, told The Huffington Post Australia, the difficulty in spreading awareness for the need to fundraise.

Lawrenson said paralympic athletes needed funding for everything from flights and accommodation to paying support staff and establishing a medical base.

“It’s definitely hard bringing attention to raising money when the Games only happen every four years. Trying to get the message out there and help our athletes through the fouryear cycle is a challenge,” Lawrenson said.

“The athletes need a huge amount of support including flights, accommodation and outfitting. We provide a medical centre, team psychologists, support staff that give the athletes the best opportunity to perform at their top potential at the Games. It’s a huge undertaking," Lawrenson said.

Australian para-triathlete, Katie Kelly, urged Australians to get behind the Paralympic team.

“Every $1 donated will go a long way to help our remarkable Paralympians achieve the best results in Rio in September,” Kelly, who was born with a deaf and blind degenerative condition, told The Huffington Post Australia.

One Year To Go Until Rio 2016

ONE YEAR TO GO! Over the next 365 days, our Paralympic athletes will push their bodies, minds and spirits to the limit to ensure they are at their peak when it matters most. For the full video, click here: youtu.be/cccRZo9ljVEJoin us on our journey, our Paralympic Team needs your belief and support. #WeBelieve

Posted by Australian Paralympic Team on Sunday, September 6, 2015



A spokesman from the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) told The Huffington Post Australia in the four-year lead-up to the 2016 Rio Paralympics the ASC -- through the Australian Institute of Sport -- has funded Olympic sport over $330 million and Paralympic sport more than $62 million.

The Australian Olympic Committee is hoping to send 450 athletes to Rio.

“Funding directly to Paralympic athletes has increased by 110 per cent -- more than double -- from the four years leading up to the 2012 London Paralympics," the ASC spokesman said.

“dAIS funding directly to Paralympic athletes this 2015-16 financial year is approximately $3,990,520. Olympic athletes were directly funded $7,883,000 as part of dAIS.

“Australia uses the same performance criteria to determine dAIS funding for Olympic and Paralympic athletes, which many other countries do not."

In January this year, Cadbury announced it will be a ‘joyfficial partner’ of the Australian Paralympic Team headed to Rio. The $1 million contribution and ‘Bring on the Joy’ campaign is a great step forward for the Paralympic movement, said Lynne Anderson, CEO at the APC.

Another exciting step forward for the APC involves channel Seven becoming the first commercial network to broadcast the Paralympic Games in Australia.

Para-athletics champion, Madison de Razario, said broadcasting the Games on Seven will allow great exposure to Paralympic sport.

“To watch Paralympic sport is really exciting and as soon as people are exposed to it, I think the interest is immediate," de Razario told The Huffington Post Australia.

“There is still a bit of a stigma when you hear 'wheel chair sport' and people think of the disability first, not the sport first. If you watch any of our sports, people see the sport first, not the disability," she said.

Weekend Sunrise is hosting a Parathon this Saturday in a bid to help raise funds to send Australia's Paralympic athletes to Rio. The show will feature athletes and special guests in a special broadcast live from 7am-12pm.

Lawrenson stressed the APC's need for funding.

“The biggest challenge has always been that most people don’t realise that we need to fundraise to get the athletes to the games. But we definitely do,” Lawrenson said.

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