March 17, 1970-October 20, 2004
by Sharon Lovering

(Editor's Note: Many thanks to Mark Lucas and Rich Zabelski for their assistance with this article.)

"In God, all things are possible."

That was Cara Dunne-Yates' personal motto, and no one understood it better than she did. Born in Chicago, she lost her sight at the age of 5 due to retinoblastoma.

At 11, she was the youngest member of the U.S. Disabled Alpine Ski Team. She competed throughout the world in giant slalom and downhill competitions. Dunne-Yates won more than 13 medals in world championships and Paralympic Games competitions over the next several years. And she was one of the few athletes in the world who medaled in both a winter and summer sport. Cara (who won medals in skiing at the 1984 and 1988 Paralympic Games) was also the first disabled skier to compete in a major able-bodied event.

She was more recently known for her success in tandem cycling. With pilot Scott Evans, she took 10th place in the kilo at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics. In 2001, she received the Carpe Diem award from the Lance Armstrong Foundation. She was the United States Association of Blind Athletes' 1997 Female Athlete of the Year; in 1998, she received the Gene Autry Courage Award for showing heroism in the face of adversity.

At the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, Dunne-Yates won the silver medal in mixed tandem kilo, a bronze in the mixed 200-meter sprint, and set new American and world records in the process. She also participated in numerous USABA championships throughout the years. In 1995, she completed a 1,000-mile bike race in central Siberia.

Among her many accomplishments outside the sports arena, she successfully forced the Law School Admissions Council to provide the LSAT in braille. She published in "The Journal of Law and Medicine" (October 1998) on the ethical debate surrounding the prenatal diagnosis of genetically based disability. As an official emissary of the city of Chicago, she toured Japan, inspiring many throughout the country. She appeared on Japanese television and extensively lectured on the rights of the disabled. She was a journalist for several local newspapers and the U.S. Olympic Committee's 1998-2001 web site. Her essay on female athletes with disabilities appears in the Encyclopedia of Women and Sport in America. Numerous articles have been published in both the United States and Japan. Her story was featured in a 1997 episode of ABC's "20-20."

Dunne-Yates was co-director of the National Retinoblastoma Foundation, as well as a full-time mom and athlete. At her passing she was a member of the Brandeis University Women's Studies Research Center. She was the recipient of numerous honors and awards. In 2002, as part of her 10th alumni reunion celebration at Harvard, she received the distinguished Jane Rainie Opel Young Alumna Award from the Radcliffe Institute. She was inducted into the International Scholar Athlete Hall of Fame in Rhode Island and the Taft High School Hall of Fame. An advocate for the rights of the disabled, she received the prestigious Reynolds Award from Massachusetts General Hospital. She enjoyed skiing, hiking, ice skating, writing children's stories, reading, poetry, and languages. But most of all she was an adventurer. She believed in dreaming and using those dreams as her guiding force to accomplishment.

Dunne-Yates is survived by her husband, Spencer Yates; daughter Elise, age 4; and son Carson, age 1.

You may send cards to: Spencer Yates, 87 Central Turnpike, Sutton, MA 01590; and Mary and Rich Zabelski, 6153 N. Nettleton Ave., Chicago, IL 60631.

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