Solingen 93

Domestic Violence and Abuse

Face Behind the File – Will to Win


– THE DAY I LAND IN VIETNAM, I KNEW THIS WAS GONNA BE
A TOUGH THING. – MY MAIN GOAL WAS JUST
TO RETURN BACK TO MY COT EVERY NIGHT
WITHOUT A SCAR ON ME. – I TURNED AROUND. I TOOK A COUPLE STEPS
WHEN SOMEBODY FURTHER UP TRIPPED A BOUNCING BETTY
LANDMINE. – AND ALL OF A SUDDEN,
TWO ROCKETS WHIZ BY ME, AND I JUST REMEMBER JUST BEING
KNOCKED TO THE GROUND. – I THINK I REALIZED I COULD BE
AN ATHLETE AGAIN A YEAR OR TWO AFTER
THE POINT OF INJURY. – I THINK THAT SPORTS
IS A HUGE FACTOR IN SPEEDING UP THE RECOVERY
OF A PERSON WITH DISABILITY. – IT GAVE ME ANOTHER OUTLOOK
ON LIFE THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IF YOU PUT
YOUR MIND TO IT. – I NEVER FELT LIKE IN MY LIFE,
I EVER SLOWED DOWN A WHOLE LOT. I JUST KEPT GOING. [SIREN] – MY NAME IS
DANIELLE GREEN-BYRD. MY RANK WAS A SPECIALIST. I WAS BORN IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS. BACK IN 1984, I THINK,
WHEN WE HAD THE RECESSION, MY MOTHER STARTED
TO ABUSING DRUGS. I BELIEVE SHE WAS INTO COCAINE,
MARIJUANA, AND CRACK COCAINE. I KNEW AT THE AGE OF 7
THAT SOMETHING WAS WRONG, BUT I DIDN’T QUITE UNDERSTAND,
SO I USED TO GO TO MY GRANDMOTHER TO ASK HER,
“WELL, WHAT IS MY MOTHER DOING?” AND MY GRANDMOTHER
WOULD EXPLAIN IT TO ME. SO, I GREW UP JUST PLAYING
A LOT OF BASKETBALL IN THE STREETS OF CHICAGO, ANYWHERE I COULD
PLAY BASKETBALL. IN HIGH SCHOOL,
I JUST REALLY EXCELLED. I HAD A SUCCESSFUL 4-YEAR CAREER
PLAYING BASKETBALL, PLAYING VOLLEYBALL. I RAN TRACK AND PLAYED SOFTBALL, AND I WAS A PART OF JROTC,
SO I WAS REALLY WELL-ROUNDED BECAUSE I KNEW THAT’S WHAT
I NEEDED TO DO IN ORDER TO GET INTO
THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME. [CROWD CHEERING] AFTER I LEFT NOTRE DAME IN 2000, I DID GET A TRYOUT
WITH THE DETROIT SHOCK, AND I MADE IT ALL THE WAY
TO THE FINAL CUT, AND I DIDN’T MAKE IT, SO AFTER THAT, I RETURNED
BACK HOME TO NO JOB BECAUSE I HADN’T DONE
AN ADEQUATE JOB PLANNING AT THE NOTRE DAME. YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND,
NOTRE DAME WAS
THE BE-ALL, END-ALL. SO, I DECIDED TO GO
TALK TO A RECRUITER, AND I FELT LIKE THE ARMY
WAS A PERFECT MIX. THAT WAS JUST WHAT
I WAS LOOKING FOR, AND I KNEW WHEN I WAS SIGNING
ON THE DOTTED LINE THAT THE WAR WAS
ABOUT TO JUMP OFF, BUT MY THINKING WAS,
JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE A DEGREE, DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU’RE SUITED
TO LEAD TROOPS INTO BATTLE, AND SO I DIDN’T WANT THAT TYPE
OF RESPONSIBILITY AT THE BEGINNING,
SO THAT WAS MY THOUGHT PROCESS IN ENLISTING INSTEAD OF
COMING IN COMMISSIONED. THE 571st MP COMPANY ARRIVED
IN THEATER–BAGHDAD, IRAQ– JANUARY 23, 2004. OUR MISSION WAS BASICALLY
TO TRAIN IRAQI POLICE OFFICERS. I WAS SCARED. I REMEMBER BEING SCARED,
THAT I WAS SO SCARED, THAT I WANTED TO TALK
TO A PSYCHIATRIST. MY MAIN GOAL WAS JUST
TO RETURN BACK TO MY COT EVERY NIGHT
WITHOUT A SCAR ON ME. MAY 25, 2004,
WAS A VERY, VERY LONG DAY. WE HAD TO GO
TO THE POLICE STATION, AND THIS IS A POLICE STATION
THAT WE WERE ACCUSTOMED TO GOING TO EVERY DAY
OR WHENEVER WE WERE ON CALL, SO EVENTUALLY, IT WAS MY TURN
TO GO TO THE TWO-STORY– UP TO THE ROOFTOP
TO PULL SECURITY. SO, I’M UP THERE FOR ABOUT 15,
20 MINUTES, AND ALL OF A SUDDEN, TWO ROCKETS WHIZ BY ME. [ROCKETS WHIZ] AS I WAS ABOUT TO TAKE COVER,
THE ROCKET OR SOMETHING– I’LL SAY SOMETHING–HIT ME,
AND I JUST REMEMBER JUST BEING KNOCKED
TO THE GROUND. I WOKE UP MAYBE
A COUPLE HOURS LATER, BUT ALL I COULD SEE
WAS THE WHOLE CHAIN OF COMMAND STANDING AT THE FOOT
OF THE BED CRYING, AND I COULDN’T UNDERSTAND
WHY THEY WERE CRYING. I SAID, “WHAT ARE YOU GUYS
CRYING FOR? I’M STILL ALIVE.” SO, THEN I LOOK DOWN,
AND I SAW ALL THESE BANDAGES, AND THEN THAT’S THE FIRST TIME
I REALIZED THAT MY ARM WAS MISSING, AND I REMEMBER JUST THAT EVENING
CLOSING WITH EVERYONE LEAVING, AND I WAS SCARED. I WAS SCARED BECAUSE THIS WAS
THE FIRST TIME IN THEATER THAT I DID NOT HAVE A WEAPON,
SO IF THE HOSPITAL WAS TO BE UNDER ATTACK,
I HAD NO WAY TO DEFEND MYSELF. SO, I JUST WENT TO SLEEP
JUST SCARED, AND THAT’S HOW
MAY 25, 2004, ENDED. – I GREW UP
IN OAK PARK, ILLINOIS. IT’S ON THE WEST SIDE
OF CHICAGO. IT’S A WEST SUBURB,
AND MY FIRST INTEREST IN SPORTS CAME WITH THE SPORT OF SWIMMING, AND THEN, I THINK, IT WAS IN
MY JUNIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL THAT I REALLY BEGAN
TO EXCEL IN SPORTS, IN THE LONG JUMP
AND THE HIGH HURDLES, AND LED ME ON
TO THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS, WHERE I BECAME A 3-TIME
ALL-AMERICAN IN TRACK. [CROWD CHEERING] SO, I REALLY STARTED CONSIDERING
THE MILITARY FOR TWO REASONS– ONE, MY WIFE AND I
WERE JUST GETTING MARRIED, AND I HAD NO JOB,
AND THE SECOND REASON WAS, I WANTED TO CONTINUE
TO RUN TRACK AND FIELD. I THOUGHT THAT I REALLY
HAD A GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE EITHER THE 1992
OR 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES, AND THE UNITED STATES ARMY
HAD A PROGRAM– THE UNITED STATES ARMY’S
WORLD-CLASS ATHLETE PROGRAM. I WENT TO THE ALL-ARMY
TRACK AND FIELD CAMP AND ACTUALLY QUALIFIED
FOR THE ARMY’S WORLD-CLASS ATHLETE PROGRAM
OUT OF THAT CAMP, AND I FULLY EXPECTED TO GO
AND SERVE MY 3 YEARS AS A SOLDIER ATHLETE IN ORDER
TO TRY TO MAKE AN OLYMPIC TEAM, BUT WHAT HAPPENED WAS,
SADDAM HUSSEIN
RAISED HIS UGLY HEAD, AND I WAS DIVERTED
TO A FIELD ARTILLERY UNIT AND WOUND UP SPENDING 7 MONTHS
IN THE DESERT. OUR UNIT REALLY BECAME
VERY CLOSE-KNIT BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO HAVE
YOUR BUDDY’S BACK IN BATTLE AND YOU HAVE TO TRUST
YOUR TRAINING. I THINK THAT YOU ALSO FIND
THAT THERE ARE NO ATHEISTS
IN FOXHOLES. FOLKS DO A LOT OF PRAYING
WHEN THEY’RE IN THE DESERT AND THE BULLETS
START WHIZZING BY. SO, HERE I AM,
THIS WORLD-CLASS ATHLETE THAT GET DERAILED IN MY DREAMS AND SERVES IN THE OPERATION
DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM. I COME BACK LITERALLY UNSCATHED,
AND ON MAY 17, 1994, I GO ACROSS A HURDLE
WHILE I’M TRAINING FOR THE WORLD-CLASS ATHLETE
PROGRAM AGAIN, AND MY LEFT LEG HYPEREXTENDS,
SEVERING THE POPLITEAL ARTERY AND SUBSEQUENTLY ENDING
MY OLYMPIC DREAMS FOR GOOD. – GROWING UP HERE
IN WASHINGTON STATE WAS ABSOLUTELY GREAT BECAUSE
WE’RE CLOSE TO THE OCEAN. WE’RE CLOSE TO THE MOUNTAINS. WE HAVE KIND OF A LITTLE BIT
OF EVERYTHING TO DO. I LOVE SPORTS. I LOVE TO SKI. WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL
AND PLAYED FOOTBALL AND THOSE. I ACTUALLY HAD A SCHOLARSHIP
TO A JUNIOR COLLEGE AT YAKIMA YBC TO PLAY FOOTBALL. I WAS IN SUN VALLEY, IDAHO,
IN 1967, AND I CALLED HOME,
AND I GOT A DRAFT NOTICE FROM THE GOVERNMENT SAYING
I NEEDED TO COME IN AND GO INTO THE MILITARY. THE DAY I LAND IN VIETNAM, I KNEW THAT THIS WAS GONNA BE
A TOUGH THING. IT WAS ALWAYS SCARY. I MEAN, I NEVER AT ONE MOMENT
OF THAT TIME IN VIETNAM EVER FELT LIKE I WASN’T AFRAID. JUNE 29, WE HAD OUR WHOLE
COMPANY WORKING TOGETHER. WE SET UP AN LZ,
A LANDING ZONE, FOR THE HELICOPTER TO COME IN, AND, BECAUSE WE WERE OUT IN
THE FIELD FOR 30 DAYS AT A TIME, THEY WOULD HAVE TO BRING US
SUPPLIES, AMMUNITION. I HAD SENT A COUPLE OF THE GUYS
UP AFTER THE HELICOPTER, AND THEY WERE ALL 20 FEET AWAY
FROM ME, AND I THOUGHT, “WELL, I BETTER
RUN UP THERE, TOO. “I NEED TO ASK
A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS ON WHAT WE’RE GONNA DO
TOMORROW.” I TURNED AROUND. I TOOK A COUPLE STEPS
WHEN SOMEBODY FURTHER UP TRIPPED A BOUNCING BETTY
LANDMINE. [EXPLOSION] IT WAS SO STRONG
THAT IT KILLED 4 GUYS AND WOUNDED 12,
AND I WAS ONE OF THEM. THEY DRAGGED ME INTO THE TENT,
INTO THE HOSPITAL TENT THERE, AND I WENT INSIDE THERE,
AND I WENT UNCONSCIOUS. I WOKE UP IN YOKOHAMA, JAPAN, AND LOOKED TO THE END
OF THE BED, AND WHAT YOU SEE
IS WHAT HAPPENED TO ME. – I REMEMBER TALKING
TO MASTER SERGEANT HARRELSON. SHE SAID, “YOU KNOW
WHAT YOU’RE COMRADES DID AGAINST COMPANY
COMMANDER’S ORDER?” AND I SAID, “WHAT?”
AND SHE SAID, “THEY RETRIEVED YOUR RINGS.” I SAID, “YOU’RE KIDDING ME,” AND THESE ARE THE RINGS
THAT I HAVE ON TODAY. SHE SAID, “THEY WENT UP
TO THE ROOFTOP, AND THEY FOUND YOUR HAND
UNDER 7 INCHES OF SAND,” AND, “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO
WITH THESE TWO RINGS?” AND I SAID, “WELL, YOU KNOW,
PUT THEM ON MY RIGHT HAND. I STILL HAVE ONE HAND.” – SO, THE DECISION THAT I HAD
TO COME UP WITH, WHAT THE DOCTOR GAVE ME,
HE GAVE ME TWO OPTIONS. HE SAID, “WE’VE CLEANED OUT
A LOT OF YOUR LEG, YOUR GASTROCNEMIUS MUSCLE
AND YOUR ANKLE, AND YOU’RE GONNA BE LEFT
PRETTY MUCH WITH A FUSED FOOT AND USE A WALKER OR WHEELCHAIR TO GET AROUND
WITH YOUR MOBILITY, OR YOU COULD TAKE
OPTION NUMBER TWO, WHICH IS AN AMPUTATION. – AND I NORMALLY LIKE TO
DESCRIBE MYSELF AS RESILIENT, SO, FOR ME, IT WAS JUST A MATTER
OF BOUNCING BACK, YOU KNOW,
STAYING TRUE TO MYSELF. I COULDN’T ALLOW A MISSING ARM
TO AFFECT WHO I WAS AS A PERSON. – THE BEST OPTION FOR ME,
REALLY, WAS, I WANTED TO BE MOBILE,
AND THE ARTIFICIAL LEG WAS GOING TO HELP ME BE MOBILE, SO THE DECISION WAS PRETTY EASY
FOR ME TO MAKE, AND IT WAS JUST TIME FOR LIFE
TO MOVE ON. – WHEN I WOKE UP IN JAPAN,
I GOT BETTER REALLY QUICK, AND MY BROTHER’S WIFE HAD A FRIEND THAT WAS
IN THE MILITARY, A VERY HIGH-RANKING OFFICER,
AND THEY CAME OUT AND PICKED ME UP
AND DROVE ALL OVER JAPAN. I REMEMBER DRIVING
ALL OVER JAPAN AND BACK, AND, AGAIN, MY LEGS WERE STILL
OPEN WITH BANDAGES ON THEM. I JUST FELT LIKE, “HECK,
THIS IS GREAT. YOU KNOW, I’M OUT DOING THINGS,”
SO I NEVER FELT LIKE IN MY LIFE, I EVER
SLOWED DOWN A WHOLE LOT. I JUST KEPT GOING. – SO, WHEN I RETURNED HOME FROM
WALTER REED MEDICAL CENTER, I WAS OFFERED A POSITION WITH
THE CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION IN THEIR SPORTS ADMINISTRATION
DEPARTMENT AS A CITYWIDE
SPORTS COORDINATOR, AND NOW I’M
AT MALCOLM X COLLEGE, AND I’M REALLY ABLE TO SHARE
MY EXPERIENCES WITH COLLEGE KIDS BECAUSE I’VE ALREADY BEEN
WHERE THEY’RE TRYING TO GET. MALCOLM X JUNIOR COLLEGE
IS A TWO-YEAR COLLEGE, SO MY GOAL IS TO PREPARE THEM
FOR 4-YEAR COLLEGES AND, HOPEFULLY, TO FIND THEM
SCHOLARSHIPS SO THEY CAN GO TO SCHOOL
FOR FREE, JUST LIKE I DID. I HAVE SEVERAL DIFFERENT
ACTIVITY ARMS AND ADAPTIVE DEVICES. I HAVE ONE WHERE I CAN CYCLE. I HAVE A BIKE THAT’S SPECIALLY
MADE FOR MY DISABILITY WHERE THE BRAKES
ARE JUST ON ONE SIDE, SO I DO DO SOME CYCLING
ON THE SIDE. I HAVE A NEW ARM
THAT I JUST PICKED UP ABOUT TWO WEEKS AGO
WHICH I’M VERY EXCITED ABOUT. IT’S A JUMP ROPE ARM,
SO I’M REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THAT BECAUSE THAT’S ANOTHER WAY THAT
I CAN TRY TO STAY FIT. I’M GONNA TRY TO DO
A TRIPLE JUMP HERE. – WHOO.
– ALL RIGHT. OH, YEAH. THE PLEASURE THAT I GET
OUT OF PRACTICING OR PLAYING GOLF
IS THE COMPETITIVE NATURE OF IT. YOU DON’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO
COMPETE AGAINST SOMEONE. YOU CAN COMPETE
AGAINST YOURSELF. EH. PSHH! WHEN I PLAY GOLF,
I ACTUALLY FEEL LIKE I HAVE TWO HANDS AGAIN, SO
IT ALMOST MAKES ME FEEL WHOLE. SPORTS WILL ALWAYS HAVE
A PLACE IN MY HEART BECAUSE OF THE 7-YEAR-OLD. THE 7-YEAR-OLD KID IS ALWAYS
IN THE BACK OF MY HEAD, AND SO IT JUST PUTS A BIG SMILE
ON MY FACE, AND IT JUST GAVE ME ANOTHER
OUTLOOK ON LIFE. – I THINK I REALIZED
I COULD BE AN ATHLETE AGAIN SOMETIME PROBABLY ABOUT
A YEAR OR TWO AFTER THE POINT OF INJURY. I HAD SEPARATED FROM SERVICE,
MEDICALLY RETIRED, AND THAT’S WHEN I FIRST HEARD
ABOUT THE PARALYMPIC GAMES. ALL THE SWIMMING THAT I WAS
DOING FOR PHYSICAL THERAPY, I WAS GETTING FASTER AND FASTER
IN THE WATER, AND I WOUND UP GOING
TO THE PARALYMPIC SWIM TRIALS AND ACTUALLY MAKING
THE PARALYMPIC TEAM AND COMPETED
IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA, SO I’M WATCHING
CLOSED-CIRCUIT TELEVISION
FROM THE SWIM VENUE, AND AS I’M WATCHING
CLOSED-CIRCUIT TELEVISION, I’M WATCHING
TRACK AND FIELD GO OFF, AND I’VE NEVER SEEN AN AMPUTEE
ABOVE THE KNEE, LIKE MYSELF, RUNNING LEG OVER LEG
DOWN A LONG-JUMP RUNWAY, AND THEN I SAID TO MYSELF,
“WHY AM I NOT OUT THERE “ON THE TRACK AND FIELD RUNNING
WHEN I’VE DONE THIS “FOR THE BETTER PART OF MY LIFE
WHERE I KNOW “WHAT THIS SPORT IS ALL ABOUT? WHY AM I IN THIS SWIMMING POOL?” AND THAT WAS THE BEGINNING
OF THE PROCESS FOR ME TO HAVE AN ARTIFICIAL LEG
MADE FOR RUNNING. AS AN ATHLETE, I WAS
AT THE ATLANTA GAMES IN 1996 AND IN SIDNEY, AUSTRALIA,
IN 2000 AND WON THE SILVER MEDAL
IN SIDNEY, AND THEN IN 2004,
I WAS AN ADMINISTRATOR WITH THE UNITED STATES
OLYMPIC COMMITTEE, U.S. PARALYMPICS DIVISION,
AND WENT TO THE ATHENS GAMES, WENT TO TORINO IN 2006, AND THEN WENT TO BEIJING, CHINA,
IN 2008 AS AN ADMINISTRATOR. PART OF MY JOB IS WORKING
WITH THE VA IN TRYING TO PROVIDE SUPPORT
AT THE WINTER SPORTS CLINIC OR THE NATIONAL VETERAN
SUMMER GAMES AND REALLY TRY TO MAKE SURE
THAT VETERANS UNDERSTAND THE OPPORTUNITIES
THAT THEY HAVE. SO, THE INJURY OPENED UP
A LOT OF DOORS, AND NOW I’M IN A POSITION TO
WHERE I CAN ACTUALLY GIVE BACK AND HELP OTHER PEOPLE’S DREAMS
AND ASPIRATIONS TOWARDS THE OLYMPIC GAMES
AND THE PARALYMPIC GAMES TO BE ACHIEVED. – AFTER I LOST MY LEGS,
I JUST WANTED– THIS JUST SOUNDS SO CORNY. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW THAT
I AM JUST LIKE ANYBODY ELSE. I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT TO DO AND WHATEVER I SET MY MIND TO. UGH! COME HERE. COME HERE. I THINK I HAVE THIS, LIKE,
“I’M GONNA DO IT. DON’T HELP ME.” HA HA! WHOO! WAAH! OH! WHOA! THERE’S NOT A LOT TO DO
WHEN YOU’RE A BILATERAL
ABOVE AMPUTEE. I MEAN, YOU CAN DO WEIGHTS
AND THINGS LIKE THAT, AND YOU GO TO THE GYM,
BUT WHAT HAPPENED WAS, THERE WAS A GROUP OF GUYS, AND I’D HEARD ABOUT
WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL. WHEN I CAME HOME FROM
MY FIRST BASKETBALL PRACTICE, MY HANDS WERE COMPLETELY COVERED
WITH BLISTERS BUT, MAN, WHEN YOU CAN’T EVEN
CLOSE YOUR HANDS OR OPEN YOUR HANDS, AND THEN
I’D GO BACK TO ANOTHER PRACTICE, I’D BE, LIKE, TAPE
ALL OVER MY HANDS, AND IT WAS JUST INCREDIBLE,
IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. HOW I SEGUED
INTO THE ROAD RACING AND THE WAY THAT FIT
WAS THAT ROAD RACING STARTED BECOMING REALLY,
REALLY POPULAR IN THE MID SEVENTIES,
AND I THOUGHT, “WELL, WOW, THIS IS GREAT,”
YOU KNOW, SO I GOT INVOLVED WITH THAT,
AND IT JUST TOOK OVER. I’D GO OUT,
AND I’D DO 20-MILE RIDES. I’D DO 15-MILE RIDES
ON MY RACING CHAIR, AND I’D WORKED AND WORKED
AND WORKED. I’VE PROBABLY DONE 100 MARATHONS
IN MY LIFE, AND WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY TO MEET
GREAT RUNNERS, STAND-UP PEOPLE, OTHER WHEELCHAIR ATHLETES,
TRAVEL ALL OVER THE WORLD– TRAVELED TO EUROPE, TO ASIA– AND JUST WOULD’VE NEVER THOUGHT
THAT THAT WOULD EVER HAPPEN
IN MY LIFE. YEAH. IN 1981, I WON
THE BOSTON MARATHON, AND THAT WAS JUST INCREDIBLE. IT WAS ONE OF THOSE EXPERIENCES
YOU WORK SO HARD FOR, AND, I’LL TELL YOU,
COMING IN THERE IN FIRST PLACE AND THERE’S 100,000 PEOPLE
STANDING IN THERE SCREAMING AND YELLING AND THE
HAIR ON THE BACK OF YOUR NECK IS STANDING STRAIGHT UP
AND THE TEARS ARE KIND OF RUNNING
DOWN YOUR CHEEKS– AND, YOU KNOW,
I’VE WON OTHER RACES. YOU KNOW, I WON
THE HONOLULU MARATHON. I’VE WON SEATTLE MARATHON. I’VE WON SACRAMENTO MARATHON,
YOU KNOW, ALL OVER, BUT THAT WAS THE FIRST
BIG RACE, AND THAT WAS A HUGE, HUGE MOMENT
IN MY LIFE, AND IT JUST KIND OF, YOU KNOW,
TAKES YOU TO THE NEXT STEP. YEAH. THIS IS WHERE I STARTED
EVERYTHING, RIGHT HERE. I HAD A WHOLE BUNCH OF IDEAS,
AND I WANTED TO COME UP WITH DIFFERENT PRODUCTS TO MAKE
SO A PERSON WITH DISABILITIES CAN REALLY DO THINGS. WHEN I STARTED MAGIC IN MOTION,
WHICH IS THE NAME
OF THE COMPANY, WE WANTED TO TAKE IT TO DO EVERY SINGLE PRODUCT
WE COULD POSSIBLY DO, AND THE WHEELCHAIRS BACK THEN
WEIGHED ABOUT 55 POUNDS, AND A FRIEND OF MINE AND MYSELF
CAME UP WITH THIS LITTLE BABY. NOW, OBVIOUSLY, ALL THE WHEELS
ARE GONE ON IT, BUT WHAT YOU SEE IS, YOU SEE
A LIGHTWEIGHT ALUMINUM FRAME. THAT DROPPED THE WEIGHT
OF THAT WHEELCHAIR FROM 55 TO 24 POUNDS. I ACTUALLY WON THE BOSTON
MARATHON IN THAT FRAME, AND THEN WE WENT TO THIS FRAME. LOOK AT THE DIFFERENCE. THIS IS THE EVOLUTION
OF THAT WHEELCHAIR. THAT WHEELCHAIR WENT
FROM A LITTLE, SQUARE BOX, ALUMINUM FRAME
WITH A WHOLE BUNCH OF RULES, TO A FRAME THAT THE TOTAL WEIGHT
WITH THE WHEELS AND EVERYTHING IS 15 POUNDS, 15 POUNDS. THE MONOSKI WAS DEVELOPED
BY MYSELF AND JAMIE McCORMICK HERE IN WASHINGTON STATE. WE WANTED IT TO BE ABLE TO BE
SO YOU CAN BE SELF-SUFFICIENT, GET ON THE CHAIRLIFT,
GET OFF THE CHAIRLIFT. YOU COULD SKI BY YOURSELF. YOU COULD DO EVERYTHING
BY YOURSELF. YOU KNOW, REALLY,
THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT, IS BEING ABLE
TO GET BACK OUT THERE AND DO WHATEVER I DID BEFORE AND JUST MAYBE DO IT
A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENTLY. MAN, I TELL YOU,
YOU CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE HOW GREAT IT IS FOR SOMEBODY
THAT HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO SKI FOR 20 YEARS AND NOW BEING ABLE
TO GO BACK OUT THERE AND DO IT. I NEVER LOOKED BACK. I THINK THAT SPORTS
IS A HUGE FACTOR IN SPEEDING UP THE RECOVERY
OF A PERSON WITH DISABILITY – YOU KNOW, WHEN I WAS
IN CHICAGO GROWING UP, SPORTS ALWAYS GAVE ME AN OUTLET. WITH THIS INJURY,
IT JUST TOLD ME THAT, YOU KNOW, MY LIFE IS NOT OVER. – YOU HAVE TO SOME WAY
GET YOUR BRAIN AWAY FROM “WHAT I USED TO HAVE”
TO “WHAT I HAVE NOW.” – MY FATHER AND I, WE TRY
AND TAKE THE WORD “ACCIDENT” OUT OF THE INJURY BECAUSE
WAS IT AN ACCIDENT, OR WAS IT ACTUALLY FATE
THAT HAPPENED? BECAUSE WHEN I LOOK BACK
ON IT NOW AND I SEE ALL THE THINGS THAT
HAVE TRANSPIRED IN MY LIFE, IF THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN,
THESE OTHER THINGS MAY NOT HAVE HAPPENED. – I’M NOT SURE WHAT MY LIFE
WOULD’VE BEEN LIFE HAD I NOT LOST MY LEGS. I ABSOLUTELY KNOW
I WOULDN’T HAVE TRAVELED
ALL OVER THE WORLD, BUT I JUST CAN’T IMAGINE EVER
DOING THE THINGS I’VE DONE. IT’S JUST, THE OPPORTUNITIES
HAVE BEEN HUGE, INCREDIBLE. – MY FATHER WAS RIGHT
WHEN HE SAID THAT, YOU KNOW, “THIS IS SOMETHING THAT’S GOING
TO IMPACT A LOT OF PEOPLE, “SO JUST KEEP YOUR HEAD UP
AND KEEP YOUR FAITH. “YOU WILL FIND THAT THERE WILL
BE A LOT OF OPPORTUNITIES HERE “NOT JUST ONLY FOR YOURSELF,
BUT YOU’LL HAVE OPPORTUNITIES “COME FOR OTHER PEOPLE
THAT ARE COMING BEHIND YOU THAT HAVE THESE
DIFFICULT SITUATIONS.” – THE VA IS SO FAR AHEAD
OF EVERYBODY ELSE, IT’S SCARY– MORE HAND CYCLES,
MORE WHEELCHAIRS, BIKES, BASKETBALL CHAIRS. TRY EVERYTHING.
TRY IT, TRY IT, TRY IT. I GUARANTEE YOU’LL LIKE IT. – IT GAVE ME ANOTHER OUTLOOK ON
LIFE THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IF YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO IT. – YOU CAN STILL DO
WHATEVER YOU WANT TO DO. YOU JUST HAVE TO DO IT
DIFFERENTLY. – SO, DO IT. – THE DAY I LAND IN VIETNAM, I KNEW THIS WAS GONNA BE
A TOUGH THING. – AND ALL OF A SUDDEN,
TWO ROCKETS WHIZ BY ME, AND I JUST REMEMBER JUST BEING
KNOCKED TO THE GROUND. – I THINK I REALIZED I COULD BE
AN ATHLETE AGAIN A YEAR OR TWO AFTER
THE POINT OF INJURY. – I THINK THAT SPORTS
IS A HUGE FACTOR IN SPEEDING UP THE RECOVERY
OF A PERSON WITH DISABILITY. – IT GAVE ME ANOTHER OUTLOOK
ON LIFE THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IF YOU PUT
YOUR MIND TO IT.

Cesar Sullivan

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