VA Adaptive Sports

Success Stories - Joel Hunt

Photograph of Joel Hunt

Name: Spc. Joel Hunt

Military Branch: Army

Disability: Traumatic Brain Injury

Adaptive Sport: Alpine Skiing

Training Regimen: Trains full time with National Sports Center for the Disabled.

Competitions: Competed in the North American NorAm race circuit in the 2010 / 11 ski season; won a Bronze star at the Huntsman's Cup in Park City, Utah.p>

How did you get involved in adaptive sports: "When I came home I spent one year in a wheelchair feeling helpless. I was always the man that provided for my soldiers. And, now I had to swallow my pride and ask for help. When my parents came to take care of me they constantly motivated me by getting me out of the house. I was lucky because a lot of soldiers do not have that support system. I am from Kokomo, a small town in Indiana and I had never skied before in my life. What I didn't realize is that skiing would change my life. In February 2008, I started getting out of my wheelchair because of my dizziness and my blackouts due to overheating. Plus, I didn't have enough control in my legs due to numbness and I was on 15 different kinds of medications. At times, my speech was slurred and my thinking was so slow that people thought I was drunk.

Since I had PTSD and TBI, I never wanted to get out of the house. My parents forced me to go to BOEC TBI ski camp to give it a try. On December 17, 2008, I learned how to ski and was told that I was carving on the third day. I was then introduced to NSCD to learn to race camp which I did well on rec skis. My best friend told me to check out CAF Operation Rebound and because of them and Disabled Sports USA's (DS / USA) efforts, I was able to compete that next year."

How adaptive sports changed your life: "Today, I am only on three different medications (down from 15) because of skiing. I have had the same coaches for the last three years and they have seen fast and unbelievable changes in me with my TBI."

Joel participates in sports for: Fun, health and fitness and competition.

Fun fact: My biggest goal is to be the best skier in the world.

Want to learn more about programs and services related to healthcare, employment, education and other topics? Visit the National Resource Directory (www.NRD.gov).