Posts tagged with “Power Soccer”

A Tribute to Jim Dornan

Thursday, 8 August, 2013

The Amway world was saddened this week to hear of the passing of longtime Independent Business Owner and Founders Crown Ambassador Jim Dornan. The Amway One by One team had the privilege of visiting Jim and Nancy Dornan last year to learn about one of their great passions: Power Soccer, a sport – and a community – for people in power wheelchairs. Jim and Nancy were supposed to stop by the game for a quick interview with us. Instead, they spent all afternoon with us at the game, then treated us to dinner. The following story was put together after that visit, and used as the basis of a short video and series of blog posts about their contributions. In honor of Jim, the story is printed below in its entirety. – JH

Introducing Power Soccer

As the soccer game gets underway at the Suwanee Sports Center just outside of Atlanta, Jim and Nancy Dornan cheer from the sidelines. They have been to many games over the years, and have learned to cheer for both sides.

Their son Eric is not playing this game, but sits on the sideline with the Atlanta Tigers, serving as a mentor and coach to the young players. Most of them have only been playing a few years, and have not advanced to Eric’s level yet.

The Tigers’ goalie blocks a shot, takes control of the ball and drives it to nearly mid-field before passing it off to his teammate. He has to scramble back to the goal, because the opposing team steals the ball and begins to set up for another attempt.

And so it goes, back and forth with parents shouting encouragement and coaches shouting advice. The basic principles of the soccer game are no different than the thousands of others that take place around the country, or the millions that take place around the world.

But there is something different about this game. These players are all in power wheelchairs, taking part in an emerging sport called Power Soccer.

The tension builds

The opposing team manages to sneak the 13-inch ball past the Tigers goalie and defense with a cross-court pass. The score is one to nothing. This is worrisome to the Tigers, as scores tend to be few and far between, and every point counts.

Power Soccer is a game of spatial awareness, angles and anticipation. The ball can, and does, bounce off any part of the wheelchair, and measuring speed and distance to affect just the right trajectory can be the difference between a well-placed goal, and an open interception for the opposing team.

Most play happens one-on-one, since the rules do not allow double-teaming. Players must stay at least eight feet away from the two opposing teammates who go after a loose ball. In a one-on-one situation, skill levels determine whether you can outmaneuver your opponent to get the ball on a breakaway, whether a block will knock the ball out of bounds, or whether the ball gets squeezed between two chairs, a struggle for control in a power matchup of speed and balance.

As the Tigers move nervously into half time with at least one goal to overcome, the audience of parents and caregivers takes a breather from the nervous tension of the competition.

Jim and Nancy join the team and meet some of the new players. They are familiar to many as a foundational part of the Power Soccer network. But to understand their story, you have to go back to the 1970s, and to the other side of the country.

Failure is not an option

Jim Dornan was an aeronautical engineer and Nancy was a speech pathologist. But neither was enamored with their jobs, and they had recently been investing more and more of their energy in a new Amway business they were building. They decided to focus on becoming Amway Independent Business Owners full time. Nancy had already left her job so she could be at home for their daughter, Heather. Jim subsequently left his job to focus solely on the business.

What they didn’t plan on was their second child, Eric, being born with Spina Bifida. With their meager health insurance maxed out and multiple surgeries needed for young Eric, their debt quickly grew to more than $200,000. Rather than succumb to despair, Jim and Nancy drew on their faith and determination to overcome these challenges, and to give Eric the support he needed. They declared that failure was not an option, and began working on building their Amway business with renewed energy and focus.

In time, their efforts paid off. Nine years from the start of their business, Jim and Nancy reached the Crown Ambassador level, a monumental success in the Amway world. They eliminated their debt, invested in a custom home to accommodate wheelchairs, and had another child, David, to complete their family of five.

Today, Jim and Nancy Dornan have reached Founders Crown Ambassador level – the highest achievement in Amway. The Amway business built by the Dornans spans 36 countries, organized under an umbrella organization called Network 21, with dedicated staff to meet the needs of thousands of Independent Business Owners worldwide. It also enabled the Dornans to pursue their passion for helping others, in creating the Network of Caring, a charitable organization that helps channel the passions of the Dornans and their Network 21 partners to help people in need around the world.

“This is a family that is hugely impressive,” says Sandy Spielmaker, Vice President of Sales for Amway in the United States. “They made a commitment early on, and as they’ve done well in the business, it’s allowed them to do good in different communities in which they work.”

A growing network of caring

Network of Caring mirrors the success of Network 21 in its global impact. It has grown so big, that the Dornans recently hired a “Chief Significance Officer,” R.D. Saunders, to manage their community projects around the world.

Network of Caring supporters sponsor around 4,200 children each year through World Vision, and have helped nearly 50,000 children historically – the most of any World Vision corporate sponsor. Network of Caring has also built schools and orphan care centers in India, South Africa and Thailand. They have delivered more than 3,800 wheelchairs through Free Wheelchair Mission in half a dozen countries, and provide disaster relief assistance after major catastrophes.

Among all of the causes that the Dornans support, it is evident that helping people with special needs holds a special place in their hearts, and their greatest joy is Power Soccer.

When Eric found Power Soccer, he immediately saw the potential of the sport for anyone in a power wheelchair. And it wasn’t just about the competition. When Eric talks about Power Soccer, it’s also about the psychological and social impact on those who struggle every day with disabilities.

“It gives you a reason to want to get up and do things in the morning,” says Eric. “It’s great to see a lot of friends around your area and get together with them once or twice a week and just have a lot of fun together. Some people [in power wheelchairs] don’t have that many friends. We’re blessed to have a lot of people to help and give better lives to those who are even less fortunate.”

One life lost moves other lives forward

Eric Dornan, now 38, came across the sport when he was 18. There were only a handful of teams at that time and most people had never heard of Power Soccer. Eric, who has always been a very quiet person, began to light up on the court in ways that Jim and Nancy had never seen.

“He gets out there and he stays focused and he takes that ball down,” says Nancy, who remembers the change that came over Eric. “There could be six people coming at him, and he’s just focused on getting the ball over that goal line. I look at that and I think – where is that off the court?”

Around the time Power Soccer was becoming important to Eric, he lost a close friend. His caregiver, Fernando Ruelas, was a special part of Eric’s life, and brought a spirit of kindness and generosity to the whole family. Fernando tragically succumbed to a short bout of cancer at the age of 30, leaving a wide network of friends and family grieving his loss.

In memory of Fernando, the Dornans created the Fernando Foundation in 2002, and took on Power Soccer as its primary cause. They found the perfect person to make the vision into reality – David Ruelas, Fernando’s brother and an avid soccer fan and player himself. The Dornans then put a great team around David by relocating coach Jerry Frick to Atlanta to expand the sport and recruiting Jerome “Pika” Durand from France to develop players and be an ambassador for the sport.

David, Eric, Pika and Jerry – with Jim and Nancy’s support – would help to grow Power Soccer into a network of more than 60 teams across the United States and around the world. Together, they would convene an international committee to develop global standards for the sport, and pave the way for local, national and international competition brackets that would open the door for more players, and more growth.

Yet the driving force for Power Soccer was, and continues to be, the impact it makes on individuals. “Once you play Power Soccer, you will never be the same. Your life will be changed forever,” says David Ruelas, Director of the Fernando Foundation who can often be found as referee at Power Soccer games.

For Nancy, the best way to see the effect of Power Soccer is to watch them playing for the very first time. “No matter what personality, when you put them in that chair the very first time, there’s like a light bulb that goes on,” she says. “They realize – I’m doing something that other kids do. And it doesn’t matter that they can’t use their hands to turn a page in a book or they can’t get up out of their chair. All of the sudden it doesn’t matter. It’s what’s in their head and their heart.”

When the Dornans first set up the Fernando Foundation to enhance the lives of people with disabilities, they realized that Power Soccer was a unique niche, and awareness was very low. “It was something that didn’t exist,” says Jim. “If people in power chairs knew it existed they’d want to play but they just didn’t know it existed. What we’re excited about now is trying to bring it to more people. Because the bigger it gets, the better it all works.”

Challenges and opportunities

It takes a positive attitude to overcome the challenges that face the sport of Power Soccer, and life in a power wheelchair. Costs for wheelchair technology are exceedingly high and not always covered by insurance. Transportation is often the biggest challenge for individuals in wheelchairs, many who are raised by single parents. According to Jerry Frick, the financial and emotional strain of raising a child with special needs increases the rates of divorce and makes most families struggle with finances.

Yet without outlets like Power Soccer, those disabled in all four limbs and confined to power wheelchairs tend to lead isolated lives, often in front of a television or computer screen. Power Soccer creates a reason to emerge, a platform where every person is needed and can be great. And it creates important networks of men and women, and boys and girls, who can share a commonality with a group of peers. Those communities can be hard to find.

“People in manual wheelchairs have a number of sports and activities they engage in,” says Jim. “But, the power chair is tremendously limiting. Even to interact with other people in power chairs is very difficult because most of them were confined to their homes. They didn’t come out to a common place. Power Soccer became not only a sport, but an opportunity to be part of a community … a team … a whole world.”

A vision for the future

The ultimate vision of Power Soccer is to make it so widely available that it is introduced as an International Paralympics game. This is a challenge in and of itself, as many developing countries do not have power wheelchairs. But the leaders of the Fernando Foundation are already making long-term plans, and working with partners like Free Wheelchair Mission to determine how they can design an inexpensive power wheelchair that can function in developing countries as a sustainable solution not only for Power Soccer, but for mobility of those with special needs.

With each challenge comes an opportunity to mobilize the creativity, talent and passion of others to the effort. That’s what you might say are the core competencies of Jim and Nancy Dornan, and what has helped to bring the Power Soccer effort this far.

“This commitment to Power Soccer says a lot about the Dornans,” says Sandy Spielmaker. “It says that they’re visionary, they’re innovative, they’re determined. They know to make a commitment today and do a little bit more tomorrow and just stay at it consistently. It’s just a great model for all of us to look at … All of us have a role and can make a difference. It might be small today. It might be bigger tomorrow.”

The Dornans recently inspired Amway to get involved in supporting Power Soccer, with matching donations that will expand the number of teams and players that have access to Power Soccer, including clinics and camps that help ease new players into the sport, and equipment that puts the investment within reach of struggling families. This is part of a global effort to help children around the world through the Amway One by One Campaign for Children.

“We’re proud and glad to be part of Amway’s vision for One by One, because that’s what we do too,” says Jim. “All around the world, IBOs find needs and inspire us to become involved. We think that helping people learn how to be givers and not just achievers is important to ultimately having the real joy of success. Our energy comes from the things we can leverage through our organization and through this amazing business. And of course, we would love to have more people join with us to help the disabled by being a coach, by recruiting players, or by supporting those who do.”

Photo finish

Late in the second half, the Tigers are keeping the ball downfield. Every attempt increases chances of success. The audience sees fewer solo runs, and more passing. The ball repeatedly goes out of bounds after shot attempts. Both sides become more aggressive. Occasionally two chairs strike with a metallic clang. Once, the ball gets pinched between two chairs and is dragged across the floor, each side maneuvering to make it pop out in their favor.

After several attempts, and multiple changes of direction, the Tigers sneak a shot into the corner of the goal. The game is now tied. The intensity picks up in the final minutes as the opposing team moves the ball to the Tigers’ side, with attempt after attempt.

The audience begins to count down from ten. The time is running out. Five, four, three two, one. Regular time is finished. A couple of minutes are added on, just like in regulation soccer. Back and forth the ball goes, each team focused on one final score. Two minutes later, the whistle blows. Time is over. The game finishes in a tie.

The teams roll by, nodding to each other or shaking hands, then they line up for a group photo. Coach Jerry Frick joins his team, as well as David Ruelas in the yellow referee jersey. They wave over Eric Dornan to join them, then Pika, because everyone wants their picture taken with the superstar. Next, someone looks around for Jim and Nancy, and waves them over.

The photo captures some of the most influential and passionate supporters of Power Soccer, and a moment in time where everyone wins.

A Growing Network of Caring

Tuesday, 28 May, 2013

Last year, we introduced you to Jim and Nancy Dornan, and their son Eric. They’ve helped to make Power Soccer an opportunity and an inspiration for hundreds of people in power wheelchairs.

But that’s not the only thing they do.

They built Network of Caring, an organization that supports many projects for children around the world, led by Amway Independent Business Owners (IBOs). We recently received an update on their latest projects.

The Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games are coming to Australia next December, and Network of Caring is already there with a $100,000 sponsorship, led by local IBOs who will help provide medals to the athletes.

The woman in this photo, taken in South Africa, was helped out of a wheelbarrow and into a new wheelchair through Free Wheelchair Mission, one of nearly 5,000 provided by Network of Caring. This month, they shipped another 550 to Odessa, Ukraine for people in the Kiev area.

Finally, Network of Caring was established in a new country. After years of working in India with the Karuna Sharan Orphans Home and Ambassador High School as well as sponsoring children through World Vision, Network of Caring will finally exist as an officially organized indigenous charity in India.

The Power Soccer story was just one of many examples of how Amway people are identifying the greatest needs for children, and responding with generosity and creativity.

Thanks to Jim and Nancy Dornan, who set a vision and lead by example.

North America: Diverse Region, Diverse Partnerships

Monday, 7 January, 2013

Our journey around the world continues as we zoom out to the regional level, extending from Canada to the Caribbean.

In the US, we saw the fruition of a three-year partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2012. Amway Positive Sprouts helps teach city children about nutrition through building edible organic gardens. A new kit developed last year will ensure that the program continues to grow.

We also saw the expansion of a partnership with the US Dream Academy, which mentors children whose parents have been incarcerated. Amway invited some lucky Amway Independent Business Owners to Washington DC to learn more about the cause they were supporting and attend the annual gala.

In 2012, we met Jim and Nancy Dornan in Atlanta, Georgia. The Dornans created Network of Caring to help children around the world, including those in power wheelchairs. They have helped scale up Power Soccer to an international sport, and a meaningful community of caring.

One of the biggest stories of the year was reaching the 30-year partnership milestone with Easter Seals. Started originally by Amway, Independent Business Owners have picked up this partnership and made it their own, raising more than $30 million over the years for people with disabilities, through many creative ways of support.

Our team visited the Yager family in Charlotte, North Carolina, where we saw a longstanding commitment from two generations of Amway IBO leaders in helping children with special needs. Amway and its people continued to participate in fundraising walks around the country. We even partnered with Easter Seals centers on the East Coast to help with relief efforts following Superstorm Sandy.

 

The Easter Seals partnership does not end at the US borders. Amway and IBOs in Canada regularly rappel down skyscrapers to raise money for the cause. Amway Dominican Republic and Amway Puerto Rico also have established partnerships with Easter Seals affiliates to help children with special needs.

And just recently, the US announced an exciting new partnership that will bring the famous “We Day” to this country for the first time, collaborating with Free the Children.

And so the year in North America ended as it began, with a flurry of opportunities and activities that are making a profound difference in communities around us … one by one.

Magic on the court

Monday, 17 December, 2012

Last week, we saw plenty of basketball, mixed with a little soccer.

Earlier this year, we profiled Power Soccer, played by athletes in power wheelchairs. Power Soccer is not just a game. It creates communities and friendships where they are most needed … as well as creating pure, intense competition.

All of this was on display during the Orlando Magic’s halftime show last Wednesday. While Atlanta and Orlando basketball players rested, Power Soccer players from Atlanta and Central Florida heated up the court with their own demonstration of speed and technique.

       

Some of Power Soccer’s biggest advocates and champions showed off their skills, including Jerome “Pika” Durand, Jerry Frick and Eric Dornan, along with more of the sport’s best players.

   

They had the crowd cheering for every near miss, and gasping at every spin kick from the heavy metal chairs.

           

It seemed to be an incredible experience for the players, and it was certainly a great show for the audience. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t intended for either.

We hope that this exposure will introduce the sport to another person in a power wheelchair who needs an outlet like Power Soccer, and just hasn’t heard about it yet. We want the word to spread.

If you know someone who may be interested in the sport, check out powersoccerusa.org.

Thanks to David Ruelas and RD Saunders for organizing a great Power Soccer demonstration, to JT McWalters and Matthew Keller for being amazing hosts on behalf of the Orlando Magic, and to David Madiol for helping us introduce the sport to the team.

Power Soccer

Wednesday, 8 August, 2012

We recently covered the story of Jim and Nancy Dornan, who are among our top Amway distributor leaders and members of the Amway Founders Council.

The Dornans have invested in many great causes for children over the years through their Network of Caring and the Fernando Foundation.

One of the causes closest to their hearts is Power Soccer. Below is a video that tells the story.

A demonstration of power and passion

Friday, 6 April, 2012

How do you bring hope and opportunity to children who are confined to power wheelchairs? How do you empower their parents, who battle emotional and financial stress in raising children with extreme needs?

Last week, we visited Jim and Nancy Dornan, Amway Founders Crown Ambassadors from Atlanta, Georgia. The Dornans have faced these same challenges with their son Eric, who was born with Spina Bifida.

Working with a team of creative and passionate people, the Dornans have invested in a sport that provides an outlet for children and their parents, and builds a network of supportive relationships at the local and global level.

It’s called Power Soccer, and it is easily the largest organized sport for children and adults in power wheelchairs.

Investing in Power Soccer over the past twenty years, the Dornans have helped to grow the sport from around five teams, to more than 60, while building a structured competitive system that is standardized across multiple countries.

The game is customized to allow shots, blocks and passes from power wheelchairs. The chairs are also customized to provide freedom of movement and a fast-paced game that requires incredible spatial awareness and quick responses. There is an incredible amount of team spirit, and quiet communication between teammates.

With support from the Dornans, a dedicated team is elevating the sport through the Fernando Foundtion. It includes Eric Dornan, player and organizer; David Ruelas, Fernando Foundation director and manager of a shop that provides customized wheelchairs and game equipment; Jerry Frick, coach and mentor; and Jerome “Pika” Durand, champion player and Power Soccer spokesperson.

This isn’t the only cause that the Dornans have taken on and grown. They have inspired thousands of child sponsorships through World Vision, built schools and orphanages in Europe, Africa and Asia, and delivered wheelchairs thousands of people around the world who cannot afford them through Free Wheelchair Mission.

Yet it’s evident that Power Soccer is close to their hearts. It serves as a demonstration of their faith and determination to positively impact the world around them.

We will soon share more of this story as part of our exploration of how Amway leaders are investing in causes for children around the world.

Thanks to RD Saunders and Colleen Scott for opening the doors to us on this incredible story.

Out to see Founders Council leaders in Atlanta

Thursday, 29 March, 2012

We’re out of the office today!

Jim and Nancy Dornan are some of our top Amway distributors, reaching the Founders Crown Ambassador level, and serving as part of the Amway Founders Council.

This week, we will visit one of the projects the Dornans and other distributors in the US are supporting called Power Soccer. It provides opportunities for those who are in power wheelchairs to participate in organized sports competition. We will do interviews and take photos, and create a video to tell the story.

This is part of a broader initiative to partner with Amway distributor leaders through the Amway One by One campaign. We’ve already visited programs in Taiwan and Guatemala, and look forward to seeing this program in the US.

Stay tuned for more.