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IPC Athlete Council member and USA Paralympian Jon McCullough passes away

USA Paralympic symbol. Image credit: USA Paralympics.

Yesterday, US Soccer, the US Paralympics and the International Paralympic Committee announced that Jon McCullough had passed away on Wednesday at the Atlanta VA Medical Center as a result of cancer.



McCullough was a member of the United States national 7-a-side football team that competed at the 1996 and 2004 Summer Paralympics, where his team never made it to the podium.  He was a member of the national team for twelve years, also competing at the 1998 World All-Star Game in Brazil, three ParaPan American Games and three World Championships.


He was also heavily involved with Paralympic and disability sport on other levels.  In 2012,  he was elected to the International Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Council.  He also participated in the 2012 Paralympic torch relay.  He was also the  Chair of the Athlete Council of the US Soccer Federation.  He served on USOC Advisory Council from 2004 to 2008.  He was the athlete adviser at the 2002 Winter Paralympics, 2006 Winter Paralympics and 2008 Summer Paralympics.


He served as the executive director of the Atlanta based disability sport organization, Paralympic Sport Club BlazeSports. He worked with  Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation on issues related to conflict resolution using sport, notably in Yugoslovia using soccer.  He served as a facilitator and keynote speaker for FIFA’s Football for Hope youth program during the 2010 FIFA men’s World Cup.


Sir Philip Craven, IPC President was quoted as saying, “The whole Paralympic Movement is deeply saddened by this tragic news and our thoughts are with Jon’s family and friends as this terrible time.

“Jon was an unbelievably inspirational and popular man, an absolute joy to be around, and a huge advocate for the Paralympic Movement.

“He had boundless energy, a permanent smile on his face and always made an impression where ever he went. He will be sorely missed by us all.”

U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said, “We are deeply saddened by the news of Jon McCullough’s passing. Jon lived his life with the embodiment of team spirit, always willing to give everything he could for the good of the sport and his community. The U.S. Soccer and Paralympic communities have lost a great advocate and an even better person. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.”

IPC Athletes’ Council Chairperson Todd Nicholson was quoted as saying, “Jon was a great friend of so many athletes, and the Paralympic Movement has lost a true friend today. He always put athletes first and foremost and he will be sadly missed by so many, especially all of us on the IPC Athletes’ Council.

“Jon always was a fighter, and he fought the cancer to the end. His fighting spirit will be continued by each and every one of us as we ensure his legacy lives on.”


USOC CEO Scott Blackmun was quoted as saying, “The USOC is extremely saddened to learn of Jon McCullough’s untimely passing. Jon was a true champion of sport who made a tremendous impact on both the Olympic and Paralympic movements. As a Coast Guard veteran, two-time U.S. Paralympian in soccer and as a leader, he made great contributions to sport development in the U.S. and around the world. Both within and outside of the sports world, he impacted countless lives with his positive attitude and passion for life.”


Chairman of BlazeSports Board of Directors Dan Holland said, “Jon will be remembered by BlazeSports for his contagious smile, positivity and uplifting spirit. We will carry on his legacy and vision for the organization, the way that he would want us to.  We are deeply saddened and our thoughts and prayers are with Jon’s family”.


Member of IPC Governing Board and Paralympian Ann Cody said, “Jon, you are a force of nature. I can’t believe you are gone. I will remember fondly our many strategy sessions and dreams for a more just world. I have no doubt you will guide us as we fulfill this”.


Away from sport, McCulough was also involved with advocating for the rights for people.  He was involved with Man Up, serving as the Executive Director of the organization dedicated to reducing domestic violence against women and girls.


While serving with the US Coast Guard in 1989, McCullough had an accident at sea that left him with a permanent neck and shoulder injury. He is an alumni of American University in Washington, D.C. where he earned a bachelors degree in international environmental health.

Laura Hale
About Laura Hale (2569 Articles)
Laura Hale is a sport journalist, specializing in Paralympic and disability sport news. Prior to helping found ParaSport-News, she spent two and a half years working as a journalist on Wikinews, a citizen journalism site. As a journalist, she has covered the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, and a number of other sporting events. She has additional experience with Paralympic sport having worked as a Wikipedian in Residence for the Australian and Spanish Paralympic Committees. She has a PhD in Communications from the University of Canberra.

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