NU Online News Service, May 26, 2004, 1:40 p.m. EDT – Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford, is sending a team of U.S. Paralympic athletes around the country to encourage employers to accommodate workers with disabilities.[@@]

The tour will stop in Annapolis, Md.; Atlanta; Breckenridge, Colo.; Chicago; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Dallas; Kansas City, Mo.; Maitland, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington.

Hartford executives will visit the cities with one or more Paralympic athletes to talk to employers and run continuing education seminars for benefits producers and consultants.

Hartford also will sponsor sports competitions that demonstrate what it is like to have and overcome a disability, the company says.

One of the athletes participating in the tour will be Cheri Blauwet, a U.S. Paralympian and Stanford University medical student. She took first place earlier this year in the women’s wheelchair division of the Boston Marathon.

Focusing on what a disabled employee can do rather than on what the employee has lost “is empowering because all of us want to actively contribute to our own success both inside and outside the workplace,” Blauwet says in a statement about the Hartford Paralympic tour.

Hartford is a founding sponsor of the U.S. Paralympics and is helping to promote the upcoming 2004 Summer Paralympic Games.