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Paralympic youth stars at nationals

Danielle Kanas, 11, won 15 gold medals at the National Junior Disability Championships last month.
Danielle Kanas, 11, won 15 gold medals at the National Junior Disability Championships last month.
Published Aug. 19, 2016

Times Staff

An 11-year-old Tampa girl whose left arm was amputated below the elbow won 15 gold medals and set a national record in 13 events during her team's recent participation in the National Junior Disability Championships.

Danielle Kanas, a sixth-grader at Martinez Middle School in Lutz, competed in discus, shot put, long jump and javelin, other track and field events and swimming.

She is a member of the Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay team, a program in the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation Department. With Danielle's contribution, the team set 14 national records at the 2016 championships held last month in Middleton, Wis. The team returned with 60 medals: 42 gold, 17 silver and one bronze.

Other team winners included Beecher Bruno, with 11 gold and three silver medals; Eric Lowry, with seven gold and one bronze; Zach Woodke, with four gold and five silver; and Logan Krepop, with five gold. Beecher also won the "Spirit of Excellence'' award for swimming.

Danielle, who was found at a Chinese train station as an infant, became a Shriners Hospitals for Children patient as a toddler when she settled in New Jersey with her adoptive mother, JoAnne Kanas. In China, doctors amputated her lower left arm after circulation problems caused irreversible damage.

"She is a very determined young lady," said Andy Chasanoff, coach of Kanas' Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay team, in a news release from Shriners Hospitals for Children-Tampa. "She wants to make the most of her abilities. She is always upbeat and positive."

Chasanoff said Danielle doesn't compete for medals or to set records.

"She just goes out there wanting to do better than she did before, for the intrinsic reward of knowing she did her personal best."

Danielle is also a straight-A student, Girl Scout and guitar player. She played The Star-Spangled Banner at a Shriners convention last month.