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Millers volunteering at Rio Games

Nancy Miller has been warned about the Zika-carrying mosquitoes, crime and polluted water in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

But she is not letting negative stories dampen her enthusiasm and excitement for being a volunteer at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio Sept. 7-18.

Nancy and her husband, Mark, of Washington County will be among the volunteers at the Paralympic Games, featuring athletes with physical disabilities.

Nancy will be working at the Paralympic Family Hotel, although she isn’t sure of her job duties. Mark hasn’t been told yet where he will be volunteering.

The Millers will be staying in the Rio neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca, which will house 14 of the 31 Paralympics facilities, including Olympic Park, and the Paralympic Villa. Competition in basketball, boccia, cycling, 5-a-side football, goalball, judo, swimming, wheelchair rugby, sitting volleyball and wheelchair tennis will take place in Olympic Park.

The Millers are co-owners of Miller Prosthetics and Orthotics LLC, with offices in Belpre and Parkersburg. Mark is a practitioner who makes and fits prosthetics for amputees and orthotics, while Nancy handles the marketing, finance and accounting functions of the business.

Mark was a volunteer at the Paralympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 and Nancy watched the competition.

“I wanted to help this time,” Nancy said.

The Millers were interviewed over Skype to become volunteers at the Paralympic Games. The process, which began in 2014, involves a lot of online training and classes, Nancy said. She is learning Portuguese to help her communicate while in Brazil.

While in Rio, the Millers have people they can contact. At last month’s Amputee Coalition National Conference in Greensboro, N.C., the Millers met Mabio Costa, an amputee triathlete from Brazil who will be attending the 2016 Paralympic Games.

Also last month, Nancy was bicycling to Fort Boreman Park from Ohio when she encountered two vans, with bikes on the back, stopped on the side of the road near the Blennerhassett Island Bridge.

When Nancy stopped to say hello to the people in one of the vans, she learned they were part of a bicycle relay team from Brazil participating in the Race Across America from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis, Md.

Nancy got her picture taken with the bicyclists and they gave her their cards. “They said they would help me if I needed anything while in their country,” Nancy said.

Nancy also received two new racing shirts and a pair of bike socks from the residents of Brazil.

Nancy is group leader of the local prosthetic users group that meets on the fourth Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Shoney’s on Garfield Avenue in Parkersburg. The group’s goal is to build a strong network of friends with limb loss in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Nancy would like to know if anyone else from this area is attending the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. She can be contacted at nancymiller@millerpo.com.

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David Kurtz has returned to the Caribbean island of Dominica with school supplies, thanks to the generosity of his Parkersburg High School classmates and local residents.

Kurtz was in town from Dominica, where he is serving in the Peace Corps, to attend the PHS Class of 1976’s 40th reunion June 24 and 25. He is a former Wood County Board of Education member and a former Bureau of the Public Debt employee.

Kurtz said he received about $1,000 from his classmates at the reunion and from people attending a talk he gave at the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library to help school children in Dominica.

“I stuffed my luggage with school supplies for my return flight, and the staff was thrilled with what I brought back with me,” he said. Kurtz said he will be shipping heavier books and supplies to the school where he is teaching “with the new library books they will be sending me in September.”

“An example of the generosity is that my classmates donated seven printer cartridges for our HP Laserjet printer. Each cartridge runs about $60, so seven of them total cost about $420,” Kurtz said.

With the current exchange rate of 2.67 Eastern Caribbean dollars for every American dollar, those seven printer cartridges equate to well over $1,000, he noted. With a $100 check from one of his PHS classmates, Kurtz said he purchased a new marching banner for his school for when it participates in National Youth Rally Day.

“My teachers would have cried tears of appreciation if they had been present at the Parkersburg Country Club to see all the great donations that came rolling in. These materials will certainly enhance our poor little school,” Kurtz said.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com

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