An eMagazine about wheelchair-accessible events, sports & locations in Arizona

Wheelchair Fencers on Guard in Arizona

[Ed’s Note: This article is authored by Pia Douglas.  She doesnt mention herself in this article, but everyone who attended knows she’s the driving force behind this very well organized camp, and the foundation itself]

On March 12 -14, a Seated Fencing camp was organized by the Grand Canyon State Fencing Foundation ( The very first of its kind in Arizona. The camp was well attended and successful in every aspect.

The national coach for wheelchair fencing, Maestro Les Stawicki, flew from Kentucky to direct the camp and to give the fencers the benefit of his long experience in coaching and competition. Maestro Stawicki is responsible for the development of the United States Paralympics (wheelchair) fencing program. Appointed Head Coach of the USA National Paralympics fencing program in 1995, Maestro Stawicki has brought great success to this program. In 1996, the U.S. National Team participated in the Paralympics Games in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1998, Stawicki made U.S. history by taking the first wheelchair team from the U.S. to the World Games in Bonn, Germany. There he led his fencers to 2nd and 3rd place medals.

Dr. Donald C. De Fabio flew in from New York to provide the classifications of athletes during the camp. Chiropractic Orthopedist & Sports Physician Dr. Donald C. De Fabio is a member of the International Wheelchair Fencing Classification Committee, USFA Sports Medicine Staff, and Medical Coordinator for both the US Wheelchair Fencing Team and the N.J. Division of the USFA. Dr. De Fabio provides event coverage for local, national and international fencing tournaments for able bodied and physically challenged athletes.

"Mario Rodriguez"

Mario Rodriguez

Also present at at the camp was Mario Rodriguez, a multiple time National Champion and Paralympic fencer. Mario Rodriguez has, over the years, diligently promoted the sport of wheelchair fencing in assisting fencing programs around the USA.(

The camp took place at the Dobson Ranch Best Western Resort.  GCSFF fencers and fencers from out of state were working hard and enjoying themselves with a plethora of exercises and fencing opportunities with able body fencers from nearby clubs. Everyone also had a chance to experience high-level fencing as well as being privately taught by Maestro Stawicki and Coach Skip Shurtz.

There was evening entertainment for the participants of dinner, raffle prize draws, and social interaction. The last day of the camp was crowned by a tournament in both foil and epee.

The winners for the foil event were:

In Category C,  Greg Wickenburg dug deep to find the strength to take the gold medal against Don Price. Both , Two fencers showed great  determination and will surely make the headlines  in the future.

In Category B,  Gold was awarded to Sonya Perduta, GCSFF fencer, national champion in foil at the 2010 North American Cup. Lance Ivey, a very strong supporter and dedicated GCSFF fencer took the silver medal. The bronze medal went to Jacob Driscoll whose sense of competition is second only to his sense of humor.

In Category A- Mario Rodriguez took the gold, followed by silver for Darryl Weiss from San Diego CA. and Jeena Driscoll, a truly unique young lady, student at ASU, was awarded the bronze.

The Epee tournament was smaller in number but fearless all the same, where Mario Rodriguez took the gold medal followed by Sonya Perduta for Silver. Darryl Weiss and Lance Ivey shared third place for the Bronze medal.

Special mention to the team of volunteers which included Justin Del Re, Josh Vaca, Glynis Thompson, Ewan Douglas Garrett del Re, Rhys Douglas, and  Michele Brown  who were very enthusiastic and did outstanding work to make this camp possible. After such a success, The United Stated Fencing Association is considering making this camp a recognized national camp on an annual basis.

All photos (C) 2010 Loren_Worthington

My friend Lauri created an excellent video about the organization.

Tagged as: ,

Leave a Response

What Acessing Arizona Is All About

Accessing Arizona is primarily designed for people who are looking for wheelchair accessible events, locations and activities. If you have paralysis (paraplegic or quadriplegic), Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Bifida, or if you are an amputee, Accessing Arizona has information about an active lifestyle.
If you are traveling to Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Sedona or the Grand Canyon, the site offers insight about the accessibility. We cover trails, lakes, state parks, national parks and just about anything claiming to be handicapped accessible. The site also covers sports and recreation in Arizona.
From racing to rugby, from basketball to sled hockey, we cover all the local sports teams. Note: All photographs and essays are copyright Accessing Arizona, unless noted otherwise. Individuals may copy photos for their personal use provided the photo includes a text link back to For commercial or editorial use, please contact the editor.