Dunne-Yates won medals at both the summer games in Atlanta and winter games in Innsbruck, a feat accomplished by few Paralympic or Olympic athletes. Sadly, her life was cut short in 2004 from cancer at the age of 34.
Dunne-Yates’ father is sharing his daughter’s story of courage and determination so others are motivated by it. He funded the statue project with an invitation-only fundraising campaign for those who supported her in life and wanted to keep her memory alive. More than 200 donors responded with more than $70,000 in four years.
Dunne-Yates is remembered as an outstanding athlete and scholar who helped found Challenge Aspen, an organization providing adaptive sports programs that teach people with disabilities like hers to ski, cycle, raft and hike, along with other activities.
“My daughter was an incredible athlete who won medals for Alpine ski racing and tandem cycling in the Paralympic summer and winter games,” said Mike Dunne. “Cara survived many challenges in life, but never let anything stop her drive to accomplish great things. She was an inspiration to everyone who met her.”
Dunne-Yates is remembered as an influential person who increased opportunities for disabled individuals. Despite the loss of both eyes from cancer at age five, Dunne-Yates graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University with a degree in East Asian studies and economics and served as class president in 1992. Dunne-Yates’s high academic goals motivated her to complete a law degree from UCLA Law School in 1997. She received many awards including the United States Association of Blind Athletes 1997 Female of the Year and the Gene Autry Courage Award for showing heroism amid adversity.
Sculptor Jerry Snodgrass was so taken by Dunne-Yates’ story that he reduced his fee significantly to create her statue. The piece contains Braille messages on the statue’s jacket and lower right pant leg to allow blind individuals to view the statue’s meaning. Mike Dunne also included some personal memories, including one of his daughter’s favorite sayings: “Get up, get out.” There are four plaques adorning each side of the base, including one for 106 Harvard donors and another for 102 additional donors.