October 3, 2008
Kirk Bauer (’78) represents U.S. in Beijing Paralympic Games
As the executive director of Disabled Sports USA, Kirk Bauer (’78) has received many honors in his lifetime. As his most recent, Bauer was appointed by President Bush to represent the United States in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in the opening ceremonies, held on September 6.
“The Beijing Paralympics left the deepest impression both because of the magnificent opening ceremonies production and the quality of the venues and conduct of the sports events that I was able to witness,” said Bauer. “All of the sports venues and facilities I visited were accessible to wheelchair users and others with disabilities.”
Bauer has been involved in numerous Paralympics, including the 1996 Summer Paralympic Games in Atlanta, the 2002 Winter Paralympic Games in Salt Lake City and the 2006 Winter Paralympic Games in Torino. He said he was most honored by the tremendous promotion the games received in Beijing. “One day, the front page of the China Daily News carried a photo of the USA vs. Israel wheelchair basketball game. It was very impressive,” he said.
He has been the executive director of Disabled Sports USA, which is a member of the US Olympic Committee, for 26 years. Before that, he worked for Disabled Sports as a volunteer for 12 years. “Sports events like the Paralympics send a very strong message of ability and let the world know that we as disabled people can be active and productive members of society,” he said.
Among his many honors, BU Law awarded him the Silver Shingle Award – the highest honor the School bestows on alumni – in 2008 for Distinguished Service to the Community. As a noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army in 1969, Bauer lost a leg from a hand grenade during an ambush while serving in the Ninth Combat Infantry Division in Vietnam. He was twice awarded the Bronze Star for heroism, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device and the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in combat.
Some of Bauer's other accomplishments include his introduction of the first nationwide program to work with parents of disabled children to ensure their children’s rights to physical education in the classroom. Bauer’s establishment of the “Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project” has helped injured veterans since 2003. Disabled Sports USA has provided sports rehabilitation programs for the severely wounded soldiers and marines returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with amputations, head injury, paralysis and blindness. Because of his initiative, over 1,600 severely wounded warriors and their family members have been provided sports programs free of charge.