Inducted in 2005
A native of Baldwinsville, Kathy Urschel has been totally blind since 1985. She lost her hearing ability in 1991. In spite of these serious disabilities, she has become on the of the sport world’s greatest role models.
Before she lost her sight, she had a normal, fun-filled life of a little girl turning into a fine woman. In high school, she was pretty and poplar enough to be chosen Homecoming Queen her senior year. Always a lover of horses, she attended Cazenovia College and earned a degree in Equine Studies as well as a Business Management in 1984.
In 1991, she earned a BS degree in Education from Syracuse University and was recipient of the prestigious Burton Blatt Scholarship when she pursued her Master degree in Education and Rehabilitation Counseling. Her academic achievements were recognized when she was listed in “Who’s Who Among Students” in 1992.
Remember the 1996 Olympic Torch Parade through Central New York? That was our Kathy bearing the torch and Olympic flame. That year she was a silver medalist in the Olympic/Paralympics in Atlanta. She and her partner held the American record in 3K mixed-pair team cycling event. Two years later, she was a member of a six-person team that set a world record in the sixteenth Race across America (Irvine, California to Savannah, Georgia) in six days 21 hours. She is a two-time tandem cycling Para Olympian, Atlanta in 1996, when she won silver; and Sydney in 2000, when she finished 11th.
Kathy is a vivacious woman who lost her sight at the age of 21 and became profoundly deaf seven years later. Kathy was then implanted with the Nucleus 22 cochlear implant that has restored her hearing. Nucleus technology enables Kathy's tandem cycling pilot at the front of the bike to issue racing commands through a microphone wired to Kathy's external electronic speech processor. The processor sends the commands to Kathy's internal implant, which allows her to hear by electrically stimulating her hearing nerve.
Kathy was named a Post Standard Woman of Achievement in 1997. The following year she became the first woman to complete the 3600 mile Trans-Continental Triathlon and was given a National Communication Award at the Kennedy Center.
1999 was not so happy a year even though she competed in the World Velodrome Track Racing in Colorado Springs and the Coastal Match Sprint Track Race. She took a horrible spill suffering multiple injuries while training for the 2000 Paralympics/Olympics. During her hospitalization, Kathy's immobility resulted in blood clots forming in the arteries of her legs. This led to a stroke and doctors told her she would never walk again. No stranger to overcoming adversity, two weeks and four days after the accident, Kathy had her foot back on the pedal . The Urschel spirit prevailed and Kathy continued her amazing career of doing and caring. She helped care for her mother who had terminal breast cancer. She learned the art of therapeutic message at Onondaga School of Therapeutic Message where she delivered the student commencement address and accepted the Director’s Award.
Kathy was named a Woman of Distinction by the New York State Senate in 2000 and was presented her award by Senator John DeFrancisco.
In 2004, she was back on the bike and won a 37-mile race in Binghamton, NY. Kathy also serves as president of her own motivational speaking bureau. She has never lost her love of horses and bicycling. She rides every chance that comes along. She enjoys swimming and running.
Kathy lives in Baldwinsville. She is a licensed massage therapist with State and National certification and is a nationally certified personal trainer.