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Odds and Ends: Mormon teen trains for the Paralympics

Published: Monday, May 28 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

An Illinois teen who was born without fibular bones in her legs and has been wearing prosthetics since she was a toddler plans to try out for the U.S. swim team for the Paralympic Games next month, the Chicago Daily Herald reported.

Despite the added challenges that come with her disability, Amy Chapman has always been involved in sports, including gymnastics and soccer. She started swimming when she was 10 and never looked back. She has built up an impressive track record since then, competing with Team USA at the Parapan American Games in Mexico last November. Todd Capen, coach of the Academy Bullets Swim Club who has coached Chapman for three years, said she was tough physically and mentally and an inspiration to her teammates.

"She's one of the strongest people you'll ever meet," Capen told the Chicago Daily Herald.

Chapman is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After she graduates from high school next year, she has her sights set on attending Brigham Young University and becoming a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld.

In related news, a young Mormon from Thatcher, Ariz., is already on the path to his dream — dancing on Broadway — as he performs in a professional stage show in Branson, Mo., the Eastern Arizona Courier reported. When he and most of his peers were registering for college, Matthew Smith was elated to hear he'd made the show on the first audition he'd ever done. Choosing Branson over Eastern Arizona College, he plans on auditioning for a cast on a cruise ship when that experience is over.

"I think the Lord must just have something in store for him because it sure fell into place," his mother, Trina Smith, said about her son's acceptance in Branson. "He's having fun and doing what he loves. That's what is important."

In other news, more than 150 members of the church in Riverside, Calif., gathered to give a day of service April 28 in the Arlanza area of the city, The (Calif.) Press-Enterprise reported.

"Volunteers removed graffiti from walls and lamp posts, cleared trash from vacant lots, cleaned up community parks and did general landscape maintenance," the Press-Enterprise reported.

Latter-day Saints in Cedar Falls, Iowa, helped landscape and start a garden at the Mallard Point Retirement Community on May 19, the WCF Courier reported, and all of the labor for a gardening project April 28 in Washington state was provided by Mormon volunteers, the Beaufort Observer reported.

Across the Pacific Ocean, relief items worth $55,000 were sent to families affected by an April 1 flood in Fiji, according to the Fiji Times. The funding for the items came from Latter-day Saints worldwide who donated to the church's humanitarian fund.

"We want to thank the LDS Church and its members for this kind assistance," a Fijian official said. "Please rest assured that all these food items have come at an opportune time and we will soon distribute these to all affected families and people."

EMAIL: jhenrie@desnews.com

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