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FLUSHING, Queens (PIX11) — A Queens Latina is one step closer to the Paralympics. 

As an athlete with a disability, Seira Garcia is a Queens College student who says she hasn’t let her disabilities slow her down in accomplishing her lifelong dream to play professional basketball. She has a message for others: to never give up.

Garcia was 7 years old when she was diagnosed with a disease that affected her hip joints and forced her to stop playing standing basketball by the time she was 17.  The student says while her physical body started to change, her mind got stronger. Now there’s no stopping her.  Garcia is the first CUNY student-athlete to be invited to a Team USA tryout at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs next month.

She is one of only 29 athletes from across the country invited to try out. Only 12 make the team to participate in the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024. It’s been a long painful road to get here.

A native of Puerto Rico, Garcia says it’s her mom who has always been her biggest cheerleader. Garcia has played for the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Liberty amateur clubs. Her coach says she is an inspiration on and off the court. Coach Ryan Martin leads the only intercollegiate adaptive sports program in the entire state of New York. Garcia is his superstar. 

“When she jumps in her sports chair, it’s time to play.  She is ultra competitive, fiery,” said Martin. 

Off the court, Garcia will pursue a master’s degree in psychology and a doctorate in sports psychology. She want to devote her life to helping others, specifically homeless people and those recovering from addiction.