South Lebanon Township native Ryan Neiswender has traveled the world representing the United States in wheelchair basketball games. Now he and his fellow athletes are trying to raise some money for their training expenses, as well as a few artists in the process.
Fantokin owner Bryan Speece said that he got linked up with Neiswender after reading a LebTown article about him, and he spoke with Neiswender’s agent, Ish Tanyeri, about a NFT collection featuring Tanyeri’s clients at the Dromos Agency.
“It was through conversation with Ish that the Team Dromos collection was born; a first of its kind NFT collection featuring four USA Paralympic athletes,” said Speece in an email to LebTown.
Speece said that Team Dromos is Fantokin’s first NFT collection or release on the website. Tanyeri said that he and Speece had been working on the project for about a year – including a lot of education about the NFT space along the way.
NFTs are digital collectibles, closer to buying a vintage record than a song from iTunes. Although the space is full of speculative behavior fitting of a Beanie Babies documentary, or worse, many large companies have launched experiments using smart contracts that run on blockchains such as Ethereum, Polygon, and many more.
Speece said that he chose the WAX blockchain for the project because it is an environmentally friendly blockchain that is used for large-scale projects already, like the Topps MLB digital trading cards on that platform.
Artists Troy Lindstrom and Rin Vangerhaeghe were sourced through Twitter, and will share in the NFT earnings for the athlete illustrations they created from provided photos.
Tanyeri said that Dromos athletes will use the proceeds for training, equipment and travel expenses.
“Unfortunately, we still live in a world where there are not a lot of income opportunities or revenue streams for individuals with disabilities,” said Tanyeri. “It can be a major struggle to make a good living due to lack of accommodations at work or simply pure ableism.”
“We are here to change that stigma, because these NFTs were built by artists with disabilities for people with disabilities to offer a recurring revenue stream for these individuals.
“We didn’t want to focus on a single athlete, like a LeBron or Serena Williams NFT, of which there are plenty out there in the Metaverse,” said Tanyeri in an email to LebTown. “We wanted this collection to transcend any single name, image or likeness.”
“We decided to focus on the big picture and on the main purpose. How could we send a message of power, strength, and unity to the rest of the world? How could we successfully represent the Paralympic Movement values and spread awareness? As an agency owner who represents Paralympic athletes in several sports, the answer was right in front of me: my athletes.”
“I believe that every generation should continue to move the needle forward and educate the public that we (people with disabilities) can make a huge impact in business, work, everyday life, sports and beyond,” said Neiswender in a press release.
“The purpose of releasing this NFT collection is to further educate people about our movement and provide fans an opportunity to support the athletic accomplishments of these individuals while promoting our movement.”
The full drop can be found here.
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