Alana Nichols is a three-sport phenomenon in wheelchair basketball, alpine skiing and paracanoe. She grew up in Farmington, New Mexico; and Alana was an avid snowboarder throughout her youth. In 2002, however, Alana landed back-first on a rock while attempting a backflip on her snowboard. The injury caused her to be paralyzed from the waist down. Alana did not let her athletic career stop there, though, as she began playing wheelchair basketball just two years later and helped Team USA to win gold at the Paralympic Games Beijing 2008. Alana is the first U.S. female Paralympian to win gold medals at a Summer and Winter Paralympic Games. She has continued to satisfy her competitive side by competing in surfing competitions, and has become a strong advocate to add surfing to the program for the Paralympic Games Los Angeles 2028.
Alana is a true advocate for people with disabilities with a goal to develop community involvement programs and Collegiate Scholarship programs in underdeveloped countries. In May, 2014, Alana was inducted into Warner Brothers “Superman Hall of Heroes” in the inaugural class of real-life heroes. She serves on the board at EspnW, The Women’s Sports Foundation, and The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Alana is an advocate of sporting opportunities for girls and women.
Interviewed by our Different & Able President and Founder, Alexandra Nicklas, Alana, an icon of courage and excellence in Paralympic sports, discusses her journey growing up as a young athlete falling in love with sports. She shares the account of her life changing snowboarding accident and how she reacted to being told she would never walk again. Alana has stated, “Do the best you can, with what you have, everyday.”