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Posted August 10, 2017 | 2:47 PM

County's Young Paralympic Athletes Earn National Medals

Competition a rewarding experience for participants

Three Hillsborough County athletes returned from the Adaptive Sports USA Junior Nationals in July with a total of 33 medals, nine national records, and the satisfaction that comes with giving their best effort.

Eric Lowry, 17, of Land O' Lakes; Logan Krepop, 15, of Parrish; and Danielle Kanas, 12, of Lutz, collectively won 18 gold, 11 silver, and four bronze medals at the week-long Nationals in Middleton, Wisconsin. For the second straight year, Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay won the Small Team Division.

The three local team members who qualified for Nationals competed against, and spent time getting to know, many of the hundreds of athletes with disabilities who also qualified for the prestigious tournament. The off-field interactions can be as memorable as the athletic accomplishments.

Danielle competed in 15 events and won 15 gold medals. Her favorite event? Throwing a javelin.

It was Danielle's third year at the national championships, and she hopes to return in 2018. Nothing beats competing, but she also likes spending time with the other athletes.

"I really enjoyed it," says the straight-A student, a seventh-grader at Martinez Middle School. "We got to meet a lot of people, and did some fun activities."

The Hillsborough County team enjoyed dining out and excursions to Dells Army Ducks, where an amphibious ex-military vehicle splashes into Lake Delton, and to the National Mustard Museum in Middleton. There also were Olympics-style opening ceremonies, a party with a DJ, and a closing banquet.

Off the track and out of the pool, Danielle is a Junior Girl Scout, plays guitar, and is a patient ambassador at Shriner's Hospital-Tampa. She also likes to spend time with her beagle puppy, Nei.

Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay, a Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation program, will begin training sessions shortly after school starts. Eric, Logan, and Danielle, each of whom set at least one national record at Nationals, plan to return. About 30 young athletes participate.

The workouts and competition help the athletes make the most of their abilities. Former team members have moved on to successful athletic, scholastic, and professional careers.

Photo information: Danielle Kanas, 12, prepares to throw a shot put at the National Junior Disability Championships in Middleton, Wisconsin, in July.