Vazquez Discovers ‘What It Means To Be Determined’

Athlete Amaris Vazquez trains with her dad by her side for the 2024 Paralympics


Sruthi Ramesh

DASA athlete Amaris Vazquez continues to improve her skills year after year, in pursuit of Paralympic triumph.

The 2020 Tokyo Summer Paralympic Games just recently came to a close on Sept. 5. With more than 28 sports sanctioned between summer and winter, the Paralympics provide multi-sport events for athletes with a range of physical disabilities. 

Liberty junior Amaris Vazquez has been training to make it to the 2024 Summer Paralympics. At the moment, she’s undecided as to which sport she aims to compete in. The games are set to be held from Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2024, to Sunday, Sept. 8, 2024, in Paris, France. 

Vazquez was born with a case of clubfoot, a birth defect in which the foot is twisted out of shape. Doctors determined that the best option for her was amputation. Despite the circumstance, she continued to remain her bright and ambitious self. 

Vazquez has been participating in sports since she was a little kid. Currently, she’s on varsity swim and track teams. She’s had the aspiration to go to the Paralympics since she was around 11 or 12 years old. 

“I started my sports when I was 8,” Vazquez said.  “As I got more serious about it, I started thinking about the Paralympics.”

Vazquez competes in a triathlon held in San Diego, Calif. (provided by Amaris Vazquez)

Interestingly enough, Vazquez has been training for the Paralympics with her dad by her side. With both of them training alongside one another, she finds more success and ambition within her training. 

“Training with my dad motivates me,” Vazquez expressed. “He pushes me and shows me what it means to be determined.”

Vazquez is also a member of the Disabled Athlete Sports Association (DASA). DASA is an athletic and rehabilitative environment that empowers kids and adults with physical disabilities. They have recreational programs, competitive team sports, and much more to offer. According to Vazquez, DASA does a fantastic job of striking inspiration in the hearts and minds of those with disabilities. 

DASA has made me a stronger person both mentally and physically,” Vazquez claimed. “They showed me that I can do whatever I put my mind to and that just because I am an amputee does not mean that I can’t do what everyone else can.”

Recently, Vazquez was chosen out of over 60 kids to train at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center which is the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site in Chula Vista, Calif. Undoubtedly, she expressed that this is a giant honor for her.

By the end of this past summer, Vazquez had racked up a plethora of medals. (provided by Amaris Vazquez)

“When I got the news I think I was in shock. I was at a friend’s house and my mother called me and read the email and all I could say was just ‘o.m.g.’” Vazquez recalled. “I couldn’t believe it.”

She finds her motivation through multiple avenues. By looking back at videos of old competitions, Vazquez continues to see her improvements in speed and form every year. She also gains inspiration from being a role model to younger kids at DASA.

“At DASA there is a new generation of kids coming in so they’re just learning and I help out when I can,” Vazquez explained. “So knowing that they look up to me and want to be like me really inspires me.”

Vazquez admires that her family are her biggest supporters, she can’t name just one person. Ever since her sports journey began, her entire family has been right by her side with support. 

“They have helped me fundraise for DASA, have gone to many of my competitions, they have been there for me through the ups and downs,” Vazquez reflected. “My family means the world to me and I owe it all to them that I am where I am today.”

Vazquez and her family were recently featured on KSDK on Aug. 16. Click here to watch that feature story.