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Cara Dunne-Yates (March 17, 1970 - October 20, 2004) was a scholar-athlete, bioethicists, linguist, lawyer, advocate, writer, poet, and mother of two. She was a Paralympic medalist in both winter and summer sports. She was Harvard-educated, and the only disabled First Marshall (class president) of any major university. She was also a UCLA-educated lawyer (1997), who first legally fought the Law School Admission Council to utilize a Braille examination format of the LSAT.
Born and raised in the northwest side of Chicago, Illinois, Dunne-Yates was diagnosed at 15 months with retinoblastoma (RB) retinal cancer. One eye was immediately removed; after three years of chemotherapy and radiation therapy her other eye was also removed as a life saving treatment.
A few months after graduating from Harvard College she was diagnosed with a facial cancer osteosarcoma. In two operations, part of her right cheekbone and palate were removed. She endured six months of intensive chemotherapy and rehabilitation treatment.
Eight years later, in 2000, she was again diagnosed with a rare and aggressive leiomyosarcoma in the abdomen. The cancer soon traveled to her liver and ultimately caused her death in October, 2004.
Class of 1984 - Dunne-Yates attended Farnsworth Elementary School.
Class of 1988 - Taft High School in Chicago.
Class of 1992 - Dunne-Yates graduated as First Marshall (class president) and magna cum laude from Harvard with an A.B. in East Asian Studies and a minor in Economics.
Class of 1997 - Dunne-Yates graduated from UCLA Law School, after a one-year medical deferral, and while training for the 1996 U.S. Paralympic Cycling Team.
2002-2004 - fellow with Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts - Women's Studies Scholars Program.
In 1976, when Dunne-Yates was six, her mother Mary Zabelski introduced her to alpine skiing, as part of a Chicago-based group, The American Blind Ski Association (ABSF). Eventually, Dunne-Yates and her soon-to-be-stepfather trained with ABSF at local ski areas as part of inter-club races. In 1979, after two seasons of skiing for fun as a family activity, she entered her first ski race. With a disastrous beginning, Dunne-Yates and her ski coach/guide and stepfather developed a new guiding technique, where the skier would follow the guide - the "front guiding" technique, never before demonstrated in blind ski racing. After numerous inter-club races with blind skiers from groups from Wisconsin and Michigan, Dunne-Yates' technique and confidence as a ski racer, improved. In 1982, she and her stepfather prepared for and competed in the first ever U.S. Blind National Alpine Championships; she won the gold medal in giant slalom. At age 11, she competed in the adult women's category, demonstrating for the first time the front guiding technique. She was selected as the team's youngest member. She competed with the U.S. Paralympic Alpine Ski Team (1982 through 1989)and medalled in world championship events in Switzerland, Canada, Austria, and Sweden. Throughout her skiing career, Dunne-Yates was exclusively coached and guided by her stepfather, Richard Zabelski.
U.S. National Alpine skiing Championships
1979 developed and pioneered the "Front Guiding" technique, where the skier is guided through the sounds of the guides skis and verbal commands from the front of the visually impaired skier.
1981 1st U.S. National Alpine Skiing Championships for the Blind - winner of gold medal for women's giant slalom - U.S. Alpine National Championships (Upper Peninsula, Michigan); race sanctioned by the United States Association of Blind Athletes USABA.
1981 - At 11, selected as the youngest member of the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team.
1981-88 U.S. National Alpine Skiing Championships - multiple national championship medalist - U.S. Association for Blind Skiers (USABA).
1984 Winter Paralympics - bronze medal for women's alpine combo - alpine skiing (Innsbruck, Austria).
1984 Winter Paralympics - bronze medal for women's downhill - alpine skiing(Innsbruck, Austria).
1984 Winter Paralympics - silver medal for women's giant slalom - alpine skiing(Innsbruck, Austria).
1988 Winter Paralympics - silver medal for women's downhill - alpine skiing (Innsbruck, Austria).
1988 Winter Paralympics - silver medal for women's giant slalom - alpine skiing (Innsbruck, Austria).
1982 - bronze medal for women's alpine combo - alpine skiing (Le Diablerets, Switzerland).
1982 - bronze medal for women's downhill - alpine skiing(Le Diablerets, Switzerland).
1982 - silver medal for women's giant slalom - alpine skiing (Le Diablerets, Switzerland).
1986 - bronze medal for women's downhill - alpine skiing (Salen, Sweden).
1986 - silver medal for women's giant slalom - alpine skiing (Salen, Sweden).
1986 - bronze medal for women's alpine combo - alpine skiing (Salen, Sweden).
In 1994, Dunne-Yates entered University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Law School. In 1995, she met and began training with Scott Evans, an accomplished velodrome cyclist. They trained daily on a tandem track bike, while each attended classes at UCLA. Dunne-Yates and Evans entered several races to build strength, coordination and strategies. In 1996, they entered their first (U.S. National Cycling Championships), Houston, Texas, in categories for visually impaired cyclists. They won first place and were selected to the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Cycling Team. Throughout her cycling career, Dunne-Yates was exclusively piloted by Evans.
1996 Summer Paralympics - silver medal for mixed tandem -1 km - tandem cycling (Atlanta, Georgia).
1996 Summer Paralympics - bronze medal for 200m sprint - tandem cycling, (Atlanta, Georgia).
2000 Summer Paralympics - 10th place in the kilo at the 2000, (Sydney, Australia).
World Cycling Championships
1998 World Cycling Championships - member of U. S. Cycling team, (Colorado Springs, Colorado).
Among her many accomplishments outside the sports arena, she:
Daughter of Mary S. Zabelski and stepdaughter of Richard Zabelski of Chicago, Cara married in 1998 to Spencer Yates, a sighted cyclist. She has a daughter, Elise, born in 2000, and a son, Carson, born in 2003.
1987 - Harvard Club of Chicago (HCC) designated top candidate from 400 plus Chicago area applications for admission to Harvard University - undergraduate.
1988 - admitted early admission to Harvard University Undergraduate; only blind student.
1989 - official emissary of Richard M. Daley and the City of Chicago, visiting various cities and prefectures throughout Japan, lecturing, writing and inspiring many throughout the country.
1992 - graduated magna cum laude - 'First Marshall' of her 1992 graduating class with a Bachelour of Arts in East Asian Languages and a minor in Economics.
1997 - United States Association of Blind Athletes Female Athlete of the Year.
1998 - published in The Journal of Law and Medicine (October 1998) on the ethical debate surrounding the prenatal diagnosis of genetically based disability.
1998 - Gene Autry Foundation Courage Award for showing heroism in the face of adversity.
2001 - Carpe Diem award from the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
2002 - awarded the Jane Rainie Opel '50 Young Alumna Award from the Radcliffe Association, Harvard University. The award, which honors Radcliffe Association executive director Jane Rainie Opel '50, is presented annually to an alumna in the 10th reunion class for an outstanding contribution to the advancement of women, to her profession, or to the institute.
2010 - A life size statue, in the likeness of Cara Dunne-Yates and her dog guide, Haley, is located near the base of the Elk Camp Gondola at Snowmass Village, Colorado.