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The Games In Rio Aren’t Over Yet: Three North Texans Will Compete In The Paralympics

The Maracana Stadium will host the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Paralympians from the Dallas area will compete in Rio next week; Matthew McConaughey’s teaching at his alma mater this semester; Radiolab tells the story of a Texas woman who can’t prove her existence; and more.

Three athletes with Texas ties are competing in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro starting a week from today and running through Sept. 18. Dallas Observer profiled each of the women: Darlene Hunter of Arlington, Pam Fontaine of Highland Village, Texas and Deja Young, a Mesquite native, who currently lives in Wichita, Kansas. Here’s a little about each of the athletes. Read more from Dallas Observer.

Darlene Hunter, 34, will compete in wheelchair basketball during the games. An accident 30 years ago left her paralyzed from the bellybutton down. At age 7, she started road racing and earned a track scholarship to the University of Arizona. She moved to Arlington in 2004 to attend graduate school at UT Arlington. She says the U.S. doesn’t give the same attention to paralympians and the games as other countries do.  


Pam Fontaine, 41, will compete in table tennis. She’s been playing since college. She used to play basketball in high school until being paralyzed in a car accident at age 16. She’s already a 1984 silver medal winner for the sport. After her win, she took a hiatus to play wheelchair basketball before returning to table tennis in 2007. Table tennis being a male-dominated sport in the U.S. motivates her to keep playing.


Deja Young, 20, is a junior at Wichita State University and studies social work. Born with a dislocated right shoulder, she’s an unconventional runner. Her running style made it difficult for track coaches in school to take her seriously, but she credits the competitive athletic culture in Dallas for her strength as a runner.


About the Paralympics


Next month’s event marks the 15th Summer Paralympic games and the first to take place in South America. More than 4,000 athletes from around the world will be competing in a variety of sports like rowing, powerlifting and wheelchair rugby.

The first Paralympics were first held in Rome in 1960 with 400 athletes competing from 23 countries in 13 sports, according to The International Paralympic Committee (ICP), the global governing body of the paralympic movement. Since then, the games have taken place every four years in the same year as the Olympics. Read more about the history of the games.

  • Four colleges in the Dallas area made it onto a “shame list” from a national gay rights group. Campus Pride accused 102 private, religion-based colleges in the U.S. of open discrimination against LGBT youth. These institutions have requested Title IX exemptions “to perpetuate the harms of religion-based bigotry,” according to the group. Colleges that receive federal money can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation, The Dallas Morning News reported, but they can seek exemptions “if they believe following the law would violate their religious beliefs.” Of the nine Texas schools named, the four in North Texas include Arlington Baptist College, Criswell College in Dallas, the University of Dallas in Irving and Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie. [The Dallas Morning News, Campus Pride]

  • UT sent a cease-and-desist letter to Donut Taco Palace for making doughnuts in the shape of the trademark “hook ‘em” sign. The Austin donut/taco shop has been making the signature sweet since 2012, Texas Monthly says. But, it wasn’t an issue until co-owner Pisey Seng received the letter in July. UT has been protective of the symbol since it gained the common law rights in 1955, but the symbol itself is much older. Would the consumer see the doughnut and immediately associate it with UT and assume the university endorses it? A judge could decide that, or Seng could forfeit the fight considering it would be a doughnut/taco shop against the University of Texas. Currently, the donut is being sold as “El Toro” on Saturdays and Sundays. [Texas Monthly]

  • Speaking of UT-Austin, Matthew McConaughey's teaching at his alma mater. The 1993 University of Texas alumnus and “Hunger Games” director Gary Ross are teaching “Advanced Producing: Script to Screen” to 30 students this semester on the Austin campus. The course gives students an in-depth look into the 2016 film, “Free State of Jones,” which was written and directed by Ross and stars McConaughey. The Oscar winner is expected to hold most of his classes via recorded video, the Austin American-Statesman reported. But the actor graced students with his presence during the first week of classes. All together now: Alright, alright, alright.[Austin American-Statesman]

  • In the most recent episode of Radiolab, meet a woman from Texas who's trying to prove she exists. Her name is Alecia Faith Pennington. She was born on a farm and was homeschooled. She had never been to a dentist or the doctor. According to a 2015 YouTube video, her parents didn’t file a birth certificate or get her a social security number and refuse to help her obtain crucial documents. “By both chance and design she is completely invisible in the eyes of the state.” Listen to her story from Radiolab and follow Pennington’s journey to obtain American citizenship on her Facebook page, “Help Me Prove It.” [Radiolab]