about lightning wheels




About Lightning Wheels

Children’s Lightning Wheels, sponsored by Children’s Specialized Hospital, is a sports team for athletes ages 6 – 22 who have a primary diagnosis of a physical disability.

When founded in 1981, the team was primarily a track and field team, but since that time swimming, archery and powerlifting have been added. In 2003, the team embraced athletes whose disability does not require the use of a wheelchair. These athletes may use walkers, crutches, wear orthotics or braces or may have motor planning difficulties. Practices are held throughout the year for swimming, track, field and archery. Powerlifting training sessions are held on an as needed basis.
Members of the team are eligible to compete at local and regional competitions. If they meet national qualifying standards they can compete at Junior Nationals where the best junior athletes from across the country come together for a week-long competition! Many of the past and present members of the Children’s Lightning Wheels are national record holders in track, field, swimming and powerlifting. At Junior Nationals, the team has consistently been recognized as one of the top three teams in the country and the athletes have been recognized for their commitment to individual sports. The team has also been represented at several international events including the 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Paralympics, the 2010 World Games and the 2006, 2008 and 2010 Junior International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) Games as part of Team USA.

In the off season, team members have the opportunity to participate in other activities including a weekly work-out where participants work on increasing flexibility, range of motion, and strength and have the opportunity to attend various sport clinics.

We realize that all participants will not set records or compete on a national or international level but they will have benefited from being part of a team. Those benefits include: confidence, independence, self-esteem, camaraderie and the life-long friendships that develop. It is a known fact that participation in athletics helps to build a level of confidence in young people that will greatly contribute to their ability to meet life’s challenges. Many Children’s Lightning Wheels graduates have gone on to successful college and professional careers. They attribute their success, in part, to the experience they had as a member of the Children’s Lightning Wheels.

Athletic competition is one of the truest tests of the human spirit. Children’s Specialized Hospital and Children's Lightning Wheels is committed to nurturing that spirit in every way possible.

The objectives of the program are:

  • To have fun!
  • To make new friends.
  • To increase independence, self-confidence and self-esteem in each athlete.
  • To help each athlete understand the concept of goal setting and how to achieve those goals whether in sports, academia or personal life.
  • To improve the level of physical fitness, through exercise, for each athlete.
  • To improve the individual’s physical skill level through instruction and providing varied activities.
  • To help establish an awareness of living a healthy lifestyle.
  • To work with the complete individual or athlete - i.e. not concentrating only on the physical aspects of the activities but also taking into account other factors such as the social, emotional and psychological well-being of the individual.
  • To increase individual effort and encourage team involvement.
  • To promote a “carry-over” effect - i.e. to stimulate a desire within the athlete to continue pursuing any activity at his/her present activity level or at a greater level once he/she “graduates” from the program.
  • To motivate the athlete to attempt a variety of new sports or activities.
  • To increase the athlete’s awareness of his/her own individual capabilities by introducing different techniques through instruction and offering suggestions for modifications.
  • To offer the opportunity to travel and see new places.
  • To create a peer group for parents and family members.
For more information, please contact Laura Caligiuri, Head Coach at 732-519-7985 or  LCaliguri@childrens-specialized.org