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The Strength to Reach Out

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Paralympian Marcia Bevard Kulick Continues to Inspire

Marcia Bevard Kulick
Marcia Bevard 1987
As a student at UMD and after graduation Kulick received national and world records in swimming and gold medals in international competition.

At the age of 23, Marcia Bevard Kulick was involved in an accident that left her without the use of her legs. With an immeasurable amount of inner strength, she went on, not just to survive, but to become a champion swimmer and wheelchair marathoner.  Her unbelievable story of overcoming adversity has been an inspiration, not only to University of Minnesota Duluth students and alumni, but the world. Since the accident in 1977, Kulick has never stopped challenging herself and inspiring others.

Kulick graduated from UMD in 1984 with an interdisciplinary studies therapeutic recreation major and a physical education minor. While at UMD her name hit the record books with national and world records in swimming and gold medals in international competition. Later, she competed in marathons and skiing events.

She made a lasting impact on UMD. Thanks to Kulick's work as a student representative on a committee to make the campus handicapped accessible, the campus now connects 22 buildings with inside corridors. Students travel inside around the campus between the residence halls, dining center, library, classrooms, and sports center.

In 1985, UMD established the Marcia Bevard-Kulick Scholarship which is awarded annually to students with disabilities. Kulick returned to UMD and received a master of education degree in 1988.

After UMD, in addition to her competition schedule, Kulick went on to work in the corporate world on product development and disability awareness. She worked as a trainer and with clients in the therapeutic recreation field. She stays active with a number of national organizations.

Today, Kulick continues to inspire. She consults on disability issues with a broad range of clients and she works as a lifestyle educator.

In 2011 she became a certified lifestyle educator for First Line Therapy, a program that operates within functional medicine facilities. "Most of the time, I help people with health disorders that have resulted from improper nutrition and a sedentary, high-stress lifestyle," said Kulick. Whether it is in a group session or one-on-one, Kulick motivates individuals to make better choices when it comes to nutrition, diet, exercise, and stress reduction. "It's really rewarding work," Kulick said. "I see so many great clients. A lot of them don't have health problems, but they're proactive. They want to reduce their risk factors for chronic illnesses." Kulick also works as a member of the corporate support staff for the Minnesota-based Lunds and Byerly’s grocery store chain.

Over the years Kulick has developed programs for individuals of all ages and abilities to motivate them to achieve beyond their dreams. Her work as a lifestyle educator is just one more example of how Kulick helps individuals make a positive change in their lives.



While Kulick attended UMD, she became the first disabled person to swim on a collegiate swim team.  

During the 1983-84 season, while preparing for the 1984 Paralympics Games, she competed for the UMD NCAA II team in the 100-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard breast stroke, 50-yard butterfly, 100-yard freestyle, and 1500-yard freestyle.

Also at UMD, she was the 1983 wheelchair winner of Grandma's Marathon in Duluth; a four-time Bonne Bell 10k winner (1980-1983); and team captain for the International Wheelchair Athletic Association.  She won nine gold medals out of nine events at the 1982 Pan Am Wheelchair Games in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1984, her senior year, she got married, won six gold medals in swimming and set five world and Olympic records in the Paralympics in Stoke-Mandeville, England.
Kulick has wheeled 13 marathons in the U.S., Japan and Hawaii and consistently placed among the top three women. She is a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer.

In 1998, Kulick was elected to the Wheelchair Sports, USA, Hall of Fame, and the following year she became the first person in a wheelchair ever to become a certified lifeguard through the American Red Cross.

While working with the Chrysler Corporation as the Marketing Director of Disability Awareness (1984-1994), Kulick created the Physically Challenged Adaptation Program which all car manufacturers have adopted. When a person purchases a new vehicle and has adaptive equipment added, the manufacturer reimburses a portion of that money back to the new car owner.
Kulick continues to stay active in Wheelchair Sports USA, a U.S. Olympic Committee-recognized organization dedicated to promoting sports for children and adults with physical disabilities. She also is a certified member of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, National Therapeutic Recreation Association, governing bodies that support recreational therapists and healthcare providers who use recreational therapy interventions for improved functioning of individuals with illness or disabling conditions. Kulick is also a member of the Women’s Sports Association, Healthy American Fitness Leaders, and Disabled Sports USA.
Kulick was an aquatic trainer for the Minnesota Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society from 1998-2006. She worked in the Health Fitness Specialist program at the Minnesota School of Business from 2003-2010 and she worked at the Minneapolis Courage Center to develop one of the most diverse aquatic offerings in the Midwest from 1988-2002. In 2010, Kulick became a clergy member in her church.

Story by Cheryl Reitan, November, 2013.

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