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The Great Lakes Games near Chicago leave no athletes on the sidelines

The Great Lakes Games near Chicago leave no athletes on the sidelines
The Great Lakes Games near Chicago leave no athletes on the sidelines 02:22

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) – This weekend in north suburban Lake Forest, there will be an athletic competition designed to leave no one on the sidelines, the Great Lakes Games.

Athletes with disabilities have the opportunity to compete in up to six different sporting events during the four-day competition at Lake Forest High School.

During her early morning archery practice rounds, Ashleigh Kordas said her biggest challenger might be Mother Nature.

"The wind's killing me," she said. "This is also my first time shooting outside, so I'm not used to the wind."

But Kordas is used to overcoming obstacles.

"If you are struggling with a disability, just keep fighting and get out there and try new things," she said. "I never thought I'd be doing any of this."

Kordas picked up adaptive sports with the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, or GLASA, after a degenerative disease, Frederich's Ataxia, started to affect her balance, coordination and fine motor skills nearly eight years ago.

Organizers said the goal is to make sure nobody is left sitting on the sideline, though one fan was there for Kordas, her mom, Debbie Phillips, who has watched her grow stronger as she picked up one sport after another.

"I can't even put it into words how grateful we are," Phillips said.

Kordas said when she first became sick, she was "almost bedbound."

"I only left the house to go to the doctor's appointments, and now, I have been able to learn how to drive with hand controls so I can come to all the events," she said. "And it's really completely changed how my life is going."

Amie Day, a 2000 Sydney Games Paralympian-turned-track coach, said the Great Lakes Games can be a pipeline for athletes who want to push for a national title or even Paralympic dreams.

"We're not giving them confidence, because they do that on their own," Day said. "But just give them the opportunity to be able to see what else life can offer."

Though Kordas took aim in practice, she said she's still working on hitting her target.

"I don't think I am quite there yet, but maybe one day," she said.

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