Oregon Ducks

Tiana Tozer: Making an impact as a Paralympian & humanitarian

Oregon Ducks

Tiana Tozer's journey from a young Oregon Duck to a universally praised humanitarian and advocate for the Paralympic game is a long and rugged road.

At the age of 20, Tozer was a promising young athlete at the University of Oregon where she called the rugby pitch home.

That all changed on May 14, 1988.

On that day the car Tozer was riding was hit by a drunk driver. Tozier was thrown from the vehicle and both her legs were crushed. 

Without the use of her legs, her rugby career was over. That didn't stop Tozer. Through 35 surgeries and four years of rehabilitation, her spirit was never broken. In the end, Tozer would lean on her sports background, channel her athletic talents, and focus on wheelchair basketball. 

The decision to take to the court was a great one. Tozer would go on to win two Paralympic medals, winning silver in 1992 and bronze in 1996. 

In the years since, Tozer has used her story to help bring attention to Paralympic games, an event she says is more accessible than ever to disabled athletes. 

Tozer took the time to talk about her experience and the Paralympics on the latest edition of Talkin' Ducks. 

 [Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast!]

In 1991-92, I had to raise my own funds to compete in Barcelona... In 1994 we came under USA basketball, so we didn't have to. That was a huge relief.

Tiana Tozer

"You're seeing stories about the Paralympics... you're actually seeing them in the news and they're actually getting some endorsements," said Tozer. "I think it's really growing. It feels like there's so many more opportunities and I'm grateful to the people who paved the way for me and I hope the Paralympians who are competing take a moment to think about the people who paved the way for them."

 

The Paralympics have come so far, but that doesn't mean advocates for the games can lay off the gas. The work is never done, and the Paralympics still have plenty of room to grow but if you ask Tozer, now is not the time to worry about where the games go from here. Instead, just sit back and enjoy the moment. These Paralympians deserve it.

Is there a long way to go? Sure. But maybe we should also take the moment and celebrate what we've accomplished.

Tiana Tozer