CHARLOTTE, NC (WJZY) - For the first time ever, Charlotte will host the Paralympic Time Trials, starting June 30. Hundreds from around the country are hoping to move on the final competition in Rio later this year.
Paul Peterson is trying to earn a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Team for the 100 meter dash.
"I've been training for three years for this and now it's all come down to one moment," Peterson said.
The Charlotte native lost his left after a motorcycle crash nine years ago. Since then, he's learned to channel all his pain and frustration into his goal.
"It's amazing that I'm able to manifest all of that into what I'm doing now," Peterson said.
Peterson is one of 400 people from around the country competing in Charlotte next week for time trials in track and field, cycling, and swimming.
But less than a week away, the local non-profit behind the event, Partners for Parks, is still about $20,000 short of its fundraising to pay for operation expenses.
"It's not a crisis but if we take some of the funds that we have in reserve and put it into this event, it takes away from other things that we like to do."
Things like giving kids scholarships to summer camps and improvements to various parks across Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. If the community doesn't pitch in, it'll hurt the organization's pockets.
"It affects us more in the future than it does right now. But the trials will not be affected," Doug Youngblood, Partners for Parks, explained.
If you can't donate money, organizers said you can take action by donating your time, as volunteers are still needed.
"We need people along the course in case something happens or if they stop, if they need water or just to make sure that we're taking care of the athletes," Youngblood said.
Another way to show support for the athletes is to come out and see them compete.
"I want these stands to be filled with people. I want them to know that even though we're missing limbs or we're disabled…these are some of the greatest athletes in the world. We have to train twice as hard…I have to train twice as people with both legs," Peterson said.
Peterson hopes the community will stand behind the athletes any way they can.
"You have people out here getting a second chance at life. They're competing for something that's greater than themselves. They're competing for the Olympics. And I think it'd be honor for someone to say they donated to such a great event."
For more information on how you can help, CLICK HERE!