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Desert Challenge Games empower people with disabilities

Posted at 7:44 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 22:44:30-04

PHOENIX — At the Desert Challenge Games, the power of sport helps push what’s possible for people with disabilities.

“I was born two pounds three ounces, I was told I was never going to be able to walk, talk, eat, sleep or even feed myself,” said Kira Stevens.

Now 17 and living with cerebral palsy, Kira Stevens has spent her life defying the odds, silencing the doubters and the bullies through athletics.

“I went to my first junior national event in 2016 and my mind was blown, I saw all these people that were like me,” said Kira.

A knee injury on the track now has her looking for something new.

“I discovered powerlifting and archery and I fell in love with it because I didn’t have to put that much effort on my lower body,” said Kira.

On Wednesday, she’s attending a powerlifting clinic put on by Desert Challenge Games coaches who give them the tips of the trade and confidence to help them push their limits.

“What we do is focus on the abilities and forget about the disabilities,” said powerlifting coach Roger Winn.

Winn is teaching them proper techniques and improving their lifting form. A disabled athlete himself, he says not only does the clinic increase participation in the event but changes the athlete's perception of themselves.

“Lose that attitude of can’t and work into can, and you're gonna see I can do that, well then I can do this, then I can do something else,” said Winn. “Then all of a sudden that can’t is further and further from your mindset,” said Winn.

Kira is hitting the pool Wednesday night in her first of multiple events this weekend. Taking her newly acquired mindset and hopefully an eventual win home with her.

“Growing up with sports, that has definitely helped me say like oh if I can bench 70 pounds, I can complete my math test you know and pass my math test,” said Kira with a laugh.