Paralympic Parkite Danelle Umstead gives it her all, gives back

PARK CITY, Utah. — Danelle Umstead launching her new nonprofit foundation on Monday’s International Women’s Day was far from coincidental. The Sisters In Sports  Foundation is a passion project from a woman who’s competed internationally, representing the United States as an athlete at three Paralympic Games.

As the first blind contestant on Dancing With The Stars, Danelle has had many eyes on her, but since age two she’s struggled with her own eyes. Her husband, Rob, has served as her eyes and her guide for all three of their Paralympic bronze medals. Their 13-year-old son, Brocton, is their biggest fan.

Co-founder of the new Sisters In Sports Foundation, Danelle and co-founder Bonita Hichison introduce to the world a new way for women and girls who are athletes with disabilities to build a collective voice. Danelle said, “I truly believe in my heart we are all better together.”

“I found my superpower at a late age in my life. Throughout my childhood I wore thick coke-bottle glasses which made me a favorite amongst bullies. Growing up was not easy for me, and I never felt a sense of belonging in the life I was living,” she said. “Defying all the odds; despite my age, lack of ski experience, and limited sight, I was determined to become a professional athlete. Regardless of whether you want to become a professional athlete, or do what you love to stay active and alive, having your own community – where you have the support you need to find your light – matters.”

Mentorships and scholarships highlight some of the superhero themed services Sisters In Sports offer. Seasoned mentors from the para sports of wheelchair basketball, swimming, triathlon, biking and skiing are included among the strong women ready to share knowledge and wisdom to new athletes and/or women with health concerns like multiple sclerosis, not unlike Danelle herself. 

The Sisters In Sports message urges inclusion of women and girl athletes with disabilities. Photo: Sisters In Sports Foundation

Born in Illinois and raised in Texas, Danelle met her husband in New Mexico after which they moved to Park City. They got two bronze’s in Vancouver 2010 in the downhill and super combined and their third bronze in Sochi 2014 in the super combined. After they competed in PyeongChang 2018 Rob and Danelle can still be seen training out on the local Park City hills.

Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 13 and has early onset macular degeneration she has no central vision and is losing her peripheral vision is deteriorated. The husband and wife team founded Vision4Gold years ago, the name of their accomplished two person team.

The 48 year old Parkite wed her tuxedoed husband in skis, a wedding dress, vale and all at, where else but a ski resort.

Parkite Hutchison who sits on the Board of the 501c3 Sisters In Sports is a long-time advocate of athletes with disabilities through, among other global organizations her high-level work with the Special Olympics in multiple states including Utah.

“As an adaptive athlete, I have seen what the power of sport and community can do to change lives. It is even more important for women with disabilities to reach their full potential.” Said Danelle.

Her vision is to create a life long community and empower, encourage and inspire women and girls with disabilities to live their impossible.

Applications for scholarships are open now on the website, apply, donate or find more information here.


Rob and Danelle Umstead receiving one of their two bronze medals at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games. Photo: Vision4Gold


Danelle Umstead is all smiles on the set of Dancing with the Stars where she was the first blind contestant. Photo: Vision4Gold


Rob, Brocton and Danelle Umstead with Danelle’s guide labrador and their family dog at their home in Park City. Photo: Vision4Gold


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