At age 13, Danelle Umstead was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition that results in total blindness. When she was 29 years old and nearly blind, Umstead’s father offered to take her skiing for the first time and it was during that trip in New Mexico that she found her passion.
A few years later, Umstead met her husband, Rob, and with him as her guide, they were first husband and wife duo to represent Team USA in Paralympic Alpine Skiing. They went on to represent the US in three Paralympic Games bringing home three bronze medals. She was later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a nerve disease that paralyzed half her body, leaving her re-learning how to walk, and then how to ski again. Despite the setback, the Umstead’s continued competing in Alpine Ski World Cup races – and winning.
In 2010, Umstead was awarded Athlete of the Year by the National Sports Center for the Disabled. In 2011, Umstead was named Adaptive Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and in 2018, she received the Visionary Award for the Foundation Fighting Blindness and Living with Hope Award for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Umstead is passionate about giving back and inspiring others. In 2021, she will proudly launch her non-profit organization, Sisters in Sports Foundation, empowering disabled women and girls through her passion for sports. When not skiing, Umstead mentors junior disabled athletes by sharing her story and offering encouragement through her motto, “living the impossible every day.”
In addition to competing, Umstead also shares her story and inspires audiences around the world through her motivational speeches. Umstead also competed on season 27 of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
Umstead is mom to son, Brocton, and her current guide dog is Aziza. Aziza has her own little buddy, another dog named Windy.
Sports: Para Alpine Skiing
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Currently Resides: Park City, Utah
Birthdate: February 15, 1972
Social Media: Twitter: @DanelleUmstead; Instagram: @DanelleUmstead; Facebook: DanelleUmstead
Toyota Vehicle: Toyota Tundra
Paralympic History: 2010, 2014, 2018
- Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, sixth (super-G), eighth (super combined, giant slalom)
- Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, bronze (super combined), fourth (super-G, slalom), fifth (downhill)
- Paralympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010, bronze (downhill, super combined), fourth (super-G), eighth (giant slalom)
- 53 World Cup podiums (2009-2020)
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